Irving Gertz, Composer for Monsters of the Movies, Dies at 93
Irving Gertz, a prolific though often uncredited B-movie composer whose melodies haunt a spate of pictures with words like “Hell,” “Thing” and “Creature” in the titles, died on Nov. 14 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 93.
His death was announced by David Schecter, a producer at Monstrous Movie Music, an independent record label specializing in science-fiction, fantasy and horror film music.
Active from the late 1940s to the late 1960s, Mr. Gertz composed or contributed to the scores of more than 200 films. He was most closely associated with three Hollywood studios: Columbia, Universal and 20th Century Fox.
Among the movies on which Mr. Gertz worked are many that if not precisely classics are enduring representatives of their genre: “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” “It Came From Outer Space,” “The Creature Walks Among Us,” “The Monolith Monsters” and “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.”
His other film credits, taken together, read like found poetry. There were “The Deadly Mantis,” “Curse of the Undead” and “The Thing That Couldn’t Die.” There were “The Alligator People,” “The Leech Woman” and “Cult of the Cobra.” There were “Destination Murder,” “Experiment Alcatraz” and “Target Hong Kong.” There were “Shark River” and “Massacre Canyon.”
Mr. Gertz contributed music to many television shows, including “Land of the Giants” and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” He also composed concert music.
Irving Gertz was born on May 19, 1915, in Providence, R.I. Musical as a youth — he played the piano, clarinet, tuba and string bass — he attended the Providence College of Music and studied composition privately with Walter Piston.
Hired by Columbia Pictures in 1938, Mr. Gertz interrupted his work for service in the Army Signal Corps in World War II. Returning to the studio after the war, he studied with the composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
Mr. Gertz is survived by his wife, the former Dorothy Stadler; two daughters, Susie Anson and Madeleine Herron; and four grandchildren.
His filmography also includes many westerns, among them “Hell Bent for Leather” and “Hell Canyon Outlaws,” as well as “Top Gun,” “The Lone Gun,” “Gun Brothers,” “Gun Fury,” “Gun Belt,” “Gun for a Coward” and “Money, Women and Guns.”Still other films on which Mr. Gertz worked, like “Francis Joins the WACS,” starring Donald O’Connor and Francis the Talking Mule, are beyond category.