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Gerald Fried, 1928-2023

February 17, 2023 Leave a comment Go to comments

Composer Gerald Fried died on February 17, 2023, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, from pneumonia. He was 95.

Gerald Fried was born in New York, New York, in February 1928, and grew up in the Bronx. He attended the Juilliard School of Music, initially as an oboe player, and later as a composer and conductor. After his graduation in 1945 he was first oboist with the Dallas Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony and New York’s Little Orchestras. He moved to Los Angeles in 1957 and played for one season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Fried had been introduced to movies by director Stanley Kubrick, a childhood friend; Fried scored the director’s first short, the 1951 film Day of the Fight, and went on to score Kubrick’s first four features: Fear and Desire in 1953, Killer’s Kiss in 1955, The Killing in 1956, and Paths of Glory in 1957.

After his move to Los Angeles Fried began composing and arranging music for television, and worked on numerous popular shows, including M Squad, Shotgun Slade, Riverboat, Gilligan’s Island, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, and Mannix, among many others. Perhaps his most famous piece of score was for ‘Amok Time’, the second season premiere episode of Star Trek, which featured  a now-iconic fight sequence between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.

Later in his career Fried was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score for the nature documentary Birds Do It, Bees Do It in 1974, and was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards, winning once in 1977 for the groundbreaking mini-series Roots. He continued working steadily on TV shows, movies of the week, and the occasional feature, up until the mid 1980s. He enjoyed one last brief moment in the spotlight in 2016 when, at the age of 88, he parodied his own Star Trek music for the low-budget sci-fi comedy Unbelievable!!!!!

Fried was a strong supporter of the fight against AIDS. His 5-year-old son Zack died of AIDS in 1987; born prematurely with severe medical issues, he was given several blood transfusions, one or more of which turned out to be tainted with HIV. Fried spent much of his non-music life raising funds for The Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Zack’s mother, Fried’s second wife Anna Belle Kaufman, joined the board of the Foundation and Fried scored the foundation’s film “A Gift of Time” as part of its fundraising efforts. Fried had four other children, with his first wife Judith Fried: Daniel, Deborah, Jonathan, and Joshua, all born in the 1950s. After retiring he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where performed in the city’s community orchestra and big band. He then moved with his family to Connecticut in 2017.

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