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George Wyle, who wrote the `Gilligan' theme, dies at 87

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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 12:07 pm   Post subject: George Wyle, who wrote the `Gilligan' theme, dies at 87 Reply with quote

LOS ANGELES (AP) - George Wyle, who directed music for singers such as Andy Williams and wrote the "Gilligan's Island," theme song, has died. He was 87.

Wyle died Friday of leukemia at the Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center in Tarzana, his son, Jerry Weissman, told the Los Angeles Times.

Wyle wrote the Christmas classic, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and more than 400 other songs.

"The Ballad of Gilligan's Island," which he wrote in one setting with the show's creator and producer Sherwood Schwartz, was one of the most popular television theme songs of all times.

"America doesn't want great music themes," Wyle once said of the song. "Just something it can remember."

The tale of seven castaways debuted on CBS in 1964 and became one of the most successful syndicated series in TV history.

In recent years, Wyle wrote music and lyrics and directed choirs for community groups and schools in Thousand Oaks, just north of Los Angeles.

"Music is a learning process. It's a reading process. Everybody gets a book of words, and we learn. It teaches them to work with other people. It teaches kids to get out and sing," he told the Daily News of Los Angeles in 1998.

Wyle was born Bernard Weissman in New York City. He began playing piano at clubs in the Catskill Mountains.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to write and conduct music for the "Alan Young Radio Show."

Producers insisted he change his name, the Times reported.

Wyle worked as choral director for TV shows such as "The Dinah Shore Show," "The Jerry Lewis Show" and "The Andy Williams Show."

He also handled music for specials by magician David Copperfield, Carol Channing, and for the People's Choice Awards presentations.

Besides his son, Wyle is survived by his daughter, Judy Mandler of Cambria; a sister, Helen Lovitch of Sherman Oaks; a brother, George Weissman of New York City; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills.
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