Vic Mizzy died last week; he was 93. As one obituarist put it, his theme songs for the TV shows Green Acres and The Addams Family “made an incalculabe contribution to 1960s popular culture.”
The Brooklyn-born composer was a child prodigy. As a 16-year old freshman at NYU, he traded in his well-tempered klavier for a Tin Pan Alley upright, and proceeded to produce some terrific hit songs and some iconic themes and underscores for some of the biggest hits during TV’s gilded age. (His familiarity with the harpsichord came in handy when he used it at the opening of his Addams Family theme.) His comprehensive website supplies a biography, discography, and filmography. The Los Angeles Times ran a comprehensive and interesting obituary.
Everyone who was around at the time will remember The Addams Family opening:
In a 2004 interview, Mr. Mizzy described the theme’s genesis:
Here’s the opening credits of Green Acres:
Mr. Mizzy wrote some of his biggest pop hits while he was serving in the Navy in World War Two. One of them, which he wrote with lyricist Manny Curtis, is one of my favorite big band pop songs — ”My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time.” There were various covers but the hit belonged to the Les Brown Orchestra, whose version spent three months on the Billboard charts in the spring of 1945 —– including the Number One spot. The vocalist is Doris Day.
Louis Prima and Keely Smith performed an idiosyncratic cover that’s worth a listen.
Mr. Mizzy was noted for his wit, and describing a recent (and as yet unreleased) CD on his own label —The Vicster Records— on which he sings twelve of his new songs, he slipped into the third person to note that: “His songs have a great advantage over today’s music for three reasons: 1) The words rhyme. 2) He uses more than three chords to harmonize his melodies, and 3) He has natural distortion, which puts him in the same class as many hit vocalists of today.”