Sunday, February 08, 2015

A memorial anniversary

Raymond Scott passed away 21 years ago today, at the age of 85. His death was not unexpected—he had been stroke-ridden since 1987, and his wife Mitzi had struggled for years as his caretaker at their home in Van Nuys. The above photo was taken in 1985, when Raymond was 76 or 77; he had already suffered a series of heart attacks and had not worked professionally in almost a decade.

If I recall correctly, at some point in late 1993 or early '94 Raymond was admitted to a nursing home in North Hills, where he suffered a fall, broke his hip, and eventually contracted a fatal bout of pneumonia. I was notified by Mitzi, and promised to get word to the press.

Memories are vivid, because 1994 was a brutal winter in the northeast; in early February I was largely housebound due to extraordinary accumulations of snow and ghastly banks of ice around town. The internet had not yet become a medium of instantaneous communication—no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no blogs. I didn't even have an email (huh?) account. There were only two options for getting the news out: telephone and fax. I spent the entire day calling, informing, leaving messages, fielding incoming calls, writing obit drafts, and faxing. Coverage was extensive: the New York Times (reproduced below); Los Angeles Times; Billboard; Variety; and the wire services. 

Despite my best attempts to present facts to the media, one erroneous claim made it into many stories, and that untruth remains in circulation to this day. It is plainly evidenced in the NYT headline: "a Composer for Cartoons."    

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing that. I remember the winter of 1994 being quite brutal with ice and snow.