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FRANK DE VOL

Biographie

Frank de Vol, Frank Denny De Vol (September 20, 1911 – October 27, 1999), also known simply as De Vol, was an American arranger, composer and actor.

Frank de Vol was born in Moundsville in Marshall County in northern West Virginia, and was reared in Canton, Ohio. His father, Herman Frank De Vol, was band-leader of a local movie orchestra and his mother, Minnie Emma Humphreys De Vol, had worked in a sewing shop. He attended Miami University.

When Frank de Vol was 14, he became a member of the Musicians’ Union. After playing violin in his father’s orchestra and appearances in a Chinese restaurant, he joined the Horace Heidt Orchestra in the 1930s, being responsible for the arrangements. Later, he toured with the Alvino Rey Orchestra, before embarking on his recording career.

From the 1940s, Frank de Vol wrote arrangements for the studio recordings of many top singers, including Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Dinah Shore, Doris Day, Vic Damone and Jaye P. Morgan. His single most famous arrangement is probably the haunting string and piano accompaniment to Cole’s “Nature Boy”, which was a US Number One in 1948. That same year, he released a version of “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” (Capitol Records 15420), that he arranged and sang lead vocals on.

In 1966–1967, he arranged the soundtrack for the 1967 Columbia Pictures comedy film, The Happening starring Anthony Quinn and co-produced The Supremes #1 American pop hit, “The Happening” alongside Motown producers Holland–Dozier–Holland.

The success of “Nature Boy”, recorded on the Capitol Records label, led to an executive position for Frank de Vol across at the rival Columbia Records. There, he recorded a series of orchestral mood music albums under the studio name “Music by De Vol” (which he also used for some of his film and TV work). The album Bacchanale Suite (1960) is a late, but acclaimed, example of De Vol’s mood music. Each track is by English composer Albert Harris and is named after a god or goddess of Greek mythology.

Frank de Vol wrote the scores for many Hollywood movies, receiving Academy Award nominations for four of them: Pillow Talk (1959), Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), Cat Ballou (1965), and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967).
Other familiar movies which featured work by De Vol include What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Send Me No Flowers (1964), The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Krakatoa, East of Java (1969), Emperor of the North Pole (1973), Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), The Frisco Kid (1979), and Herbie Goes Bananas (1980).
Frank de Vol also composed the jingle for the Screen Gems’ Dancing Sticks logo (1963–1965), which appeared on all TV shows produced by the television division of Columbia Pictures.

Frank de Vol was musical director (and occasionally seen) on Edgar Bergen’s 1956-57 CBS prime-time game show, Do You Trust Your Wife?. “Frank De Vol’s orchestra” was featured on the NBC prime time musical variety series The Lux Show Starring Rosemary Clooney, but the show only lasted from 1957 to 1958. During this time, he appeared on The Betty White Show (1954) and Rod Cameron’s syndicated State Trooper. His later appearances ere on Fernwood 2-Nite (1977), and America 2-Nite (1978).
Frank de Vol is best recognized for his television theme tunes, like Family Affair, Gidget, The Brady Bunch, and My Three Sons. The latter theme was musically complex, with a piano playing a triplet obbligato over the melody in 4/4 time, and was a hit single in 1961. He composed scores for episodes of McCloud and The Love Boat, amongst other work for TV.

Beginning in 1969, “The Fuzz” became the theme song of Brazilian TV newscast Jornal Nacional. KOOL-TV (later KTSP, now KSAZ-TV) was the first TV station to use the song. WKBW-TV also used the theme music for the first version of what would eventually become known as Eyewitness News. It would later be replaced by the Action News theme, Move Closer to Your World).

Frank de Vol was also an actor specializing in deadpan comic characters, especially as bandleader Happy Kyne on the 1970s talk show parodies Fernwood 2 Night and America 2-Night. He also appeared in TV series I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster, I Dream of Jeannie, Bonanza, Petticoat Junction, Mickey starring Mickey Rooney, The Brady Bunch, Get Smart (at least 2 appearances as Prof. Carleton), and The Jeffersons. De Vol had also comic roles as Chief Eaglewood, the head of the Thundercloud Boys’ Camp in The Parent Trap, and as the onscreen narrator in Jerry Lewis’s 1967 comedy film The Big Mouth.

Frank de Vol also appeared as a Bandleader in the last season of My Three Sons, in addition to writing the theme music and serving as in-house composer for most of the show’s twelve seasons. He also scored most episodes of Family Affair, including many of the same incidental music cues as My Three Sons.
De Vol preferred to be credited as “Frank De Vol” for his acting appearances, and as “De Vol” for his musical work.

Frank de Vol was married twice: first to Grayce Agnes McGinty in 1935. This fifty-four year marriage produced two daughters; Linda Morehouse, and Donna Copeland, and ended with Grayce’s death in 1989. His second marriage was to television actress and big band singer Helen O’Connell in 1991, until her death 1993.
He was initiated as an honorary member of the Gamma Omega chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in music, in 1962.

In the mid-1990s, when well into his eighties, De Vol was active in the Big Band Academy of America.
Frank de Vol died of congestive heart failure on October 27, 1999 in Lafayette, California. He is interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills.