Vintage Music Home

LIONEL NEWMAN

Biographie

Lionel Newman (January 4, 1916 – February 3, 1989) was an American conductor, pianist, and film and television composer. He was the brother of Alfred Newman and Emil Newman, uncle of Randy Newman, David Newman and Thomas Newman, and grandfather of Joey Newman.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Lionel Newman was one of ten children, the youngest of seven boys, born to Russian immigrant Jewish parents. While the family had little money, the children’s mother, Luba, was a strong woman who encouraged them to achieve. Lionel Newman migrated to Hollywood where, at the age of 16, he began conducting for impresario Earl Carroll. This was where he met his future wife, Beverly Carroll, an Earl Carroll Vanity’s showgirl, and niece of the impresario. Newman had formal training in New York, and after moving to Los Angeles, he continued his studies with Joseph Achron and Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco.
In the 1930s, Newman earned his stripes conducting national tours and working as the piano accompanist for Mae West. She used to scold him for holding his hands too high in the pit saying, “I’m the show, Newman, not you.”

At the age of 18, he obtained a job playing piano on the Holland America ocean liner, the S.S.Rotterdam, with his “Newman’s Society Orchestra”. This trip had great significance for him, as he had always wanted to make another such trip to find his mother’s home.

After serving an apprenticeship conducting and orchestrating live shows, Lionel Newman joined 20th Century Fox as a rehearsal pianist under the guidance of his brother, Alfred Newman, and by 1959, he had been promoted to Musical Director for Television there. This opened the doors to feature films. He was soon made vice president in charge of music for both television and features. This soon resulted in a promotion to senior vice president of all music for Twentieth Century Fox Films. He wrote several classic TV themes for Fox, including The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Adventures in Paradise, and Daniel Boone.

Lionel Newman’s tenure with Twentieth Century Fox spanned 46 years with over 200 films to his credit, including How to Marry a Millionaire, North To Alaska, Road House, and Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley’s first picture). He was musical director for all of Marilyn Monroe’s films at FOX, in accordance with her request, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, There’s No Business Like Show Business, River of No Return, and Let’s Make Love.

He received eleven Academy Award nominations, and won an Oscar for Hello Dolly! in 1969. He conducted the scores for Cleopatra, The Sand Pebbles, The Agony and the Ecstasy, The Long Hot Summer, The Young Lions, Alien, and The Omen. He was the musical supervisor for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Monsignor, and The Fury. Although he did not consider himself a songwriter, he received a certificate of merit from Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) for over one million network performances of his 1948 hit, “Again”, a pop standard that lived on long after its introduction in the film Road House.

Newman’s wit and humor were famous around the film capital. Frank Sinatra, in his biography, called Newman one of the funniest men in Hollywood. His meanness and harsh tongue were also renowned. Jerry Goldsmith recalls in his biography how Newman used to call him “Gorgeous” and act feminine behind his back, jealous of the female following Goldsmith had at the studio. Goldsmith also recounts that Newman nicknamed John Williams “Little Dimitri”, after Dimitri Tiomkin.

Lionel Newman absolutely loved the film industry. In the world of film music, he worked very hard and rose to become one of its giants. He was a perfectionist, always making “just one more take” if some little detail could be improved. He wanted the Twentieth Century Fox Orchestra to reach the level of a great symphony orchestra, and it did, especially when he conducted. He was instrumental in the careers of John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Dominic Frontiere, Pat Williams, and many more.

Lionel Newman was married to Beverly Carroll, who died October 21, 2010 and with whom he had three daughters. Carroll Newman, a producer, is married to actor/writer Gary Frank and they have one daughter Jessica Marli Frank, who is a Digital Marketing Director in the Feature division at Lionsgate. Deborah Newman Sharpe is married to Robert Sharpe and has three children; Sarah, Jennifer and Jeremy. Jenifer Newman has one son, Joey Newman, a film and television composer, who is married to Jerelyn Newman with three daughters, Ella, Ava and Leah.

During the last few years of his tenure at FOX, Newman conducted major symphony orchestras in the United States, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand. Newman retired in 1985 and died on February 3, 1989 from cardiac arrest.