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Jerry Goldsmith, 75, prolific film composer

LOS ANGELES -- Jerry Goldsmith, the Emmy- and Academy Award-winning composer who created memorable scores for films as varied as ''Planet of the Apes," ''Patton," ''Chinatown," and ''The Omen, died Wednesday at his Beverly Hills home after battling cancer. He was 75.

During his five-decade career in Hollywood, Mr. Goldsmith was known for both the volume and variety of his works. He composed music for almost 200 feature films, from light farces to action thrillers, and memorable themes for several television shows, including ''The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," ''Dr. Kildare," ''The Waltons," and ''Barnaby Jones."

Mr. Goldsmith was nominated for 18 Academy Awards, winning for 1976's ''The Omen." His other nominations included ''A Patch of Blue," ''Planet of the Apes," ''Patton," ''Chinatown," ''Under Fire," ''The Wind and the Lion," and ''Basic Instinct."

He was nominated for seven Emmys, winning five for ''Star Trek: Voyager," the miniseries ''Masada" and ''QB VII," and the TV movies ''Babe" and ''The Red Pony." He also was nominated for numerous Grammys and Golden Globes.

Mr. Goldsmith's early radio and TV background taught him to be fast as well as prolific. He was brought in at the last minute to replace the score of 1974's ''Chinatown," and he finished the music for the film noir thriller in just 10 days. For the 1997 action thriller ''Air Force One," he wrote the score in slightly more than four weeks after the original work was rejected.

Considered an innovator, he added avant-garde instruments to film orchestras and new ideas to film scoring. In 1968's ''Planet of the Apes," for example, he used stainless-steel mixing bowls to create an unusual percussion sound. He also had the brass players create sound by blowing into the mouthpieces of their instruments without the instruments attached.

''As modern acting came from Brando, modern film scoring came from Jerry Goldsmith," Lukas Kendall, editor and founder of Film Score Monthly, a magazine, website and record label dedicated to vintage film scores, told the Los Angeles Times yesterday.

''It's very rare for a Hollywood musician to find success in one genre, but Jerry did it in every genre. For a composer to be as relevant in 2004 as he was in 1964 is unprecedented."

Director Joe Dante, who did nine movies with Mr. Goldsmith, including the ''Gremlin" films and ''Looney Tunes: Back in Action," said that there was a joke on his sets that if a scene wasn't working right, ''Well, Jerry will save it." He said the composer's scores improved every film they worked on together.

''He never got stale. He didn't repeat himself," Dante said.

Mr. Goldsmith once chalked up his success to a mix of flexibility and pragmatism.

''I'm a chameleon," he told the Times some years ago. ''My longevity comes from my adaptive skills. I let the picture dictate the style. And I accept the fact that there will be gunshots and dialogue over my music. Movies are a director's medium."

Rick Berman, executive producer of several of the ''Star Trek" series and films that featured the music of Mr. Goldsmith, said yesterday that he never saw him riled.

''If a director or a producer suggested something be altered slightly, he was always enthusiastic to do that," Berman said.

Mr. Goldsmith's scores never overpowered the material, and he knew the power of silence.

''Jerry will stop the music for 10 or 20 bars, so when it starts it will be new again," director Paul Verhoeven, who worked with Mr. Goldsmith on ''Total Recall" and ''Basic Instinct," told The Times. ''Jerry gives emotional context to the images without making them cheap or hollow. There's nothing 'on the nose.' Instead of accentuating sound effects, he goes for the soul of a film."

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