Frank Churchill (1901-1942)
Frank Churchill’s musical career began at the age of 15, when he worked as a cinema pianist. After dropping out of medical school to pursue his passion for music, Churchill continued to work as a pianist for a Los Angeles radio station before joining Disney in 1930. Many of Churchill’s animated shorts were a huge success, with his song 'Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?', from The Three Little Pigs, becoming a particular favourite. His first full-length film soundtrack was for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, which included popular numbers 'Whistle While you Work', ‘Heigh-Ho’, and 'Some Day My Prince Will Come'. The sound-track was such a success that Churchill was appointed supervisor of music at Disney. Churchill continued to work on film scores over the next few years, writing some of the music for Peter Pan, Bambi, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad and Bambi. In 1942, Churchill was awarded an Oscar in the category of ‘Scoring of a Musical Picture’ for his role in co-writing the music for Dumbo with Ned Washington.
"Heigh-ho, heigh-ho! It's home from work we go!"
Frank Churchill committed suicide in May 1942, and was found at the piano with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been suffering from depression and alcoholism following the deaths of two close friends earlier that year. Churchill received a number of posthumous Oscar nominations soon after his death for songs in Bambi and Dumbo, his last pictures.
Sunday, 30 December 2012
They died in 1942 -- 6: Frank Churchill
At the halfway stage of the 1709 Blog's pen-portraits of twelve notable creators whose works fall out of copyright in life-plus-70 countries in the coming year, guest contributor Miriam Levenson offers this short sketch of Frank Churchill, who wrote some of the most irritatingly catchy music ever to grace a Disney cartoon film: