Prolific, innovative composer Gerald Fried has died at age 95 (1928-2023). The Emmy winning artist composed original music for Roots, Star Trek: TOS, Mission Impossible, Gilligan’s island, and such films as Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory.

I was fortunate to work with him and interview him, and found him a modest, likable, friendly guy who loved to talk about music, writing, and his adventures. He understood how to create for ethnic instruments and native rhythms well before it was popular. He had a great sense of melody, as you can hear in many excerpts from his soundtracks and concert music on YouTube. For example, Ruth.

Perhaps his most memorable #StarTrek TOS score was The Ancient Battle from the iconic ep Amok Time. In the playlist below. Gerry (as he was known to his friends and co-workers), had a lifelong interest in ethnic music and created a unique sound for Vulcan culture with world percussion and dissonant winds. His score was chosen in the STS-133 Space Shuttle Discovery mission on March 4, 2011, as the morning wake-up music for the crew. Trek Producer Robert Justman said: “I cannot say enough about the quality of this man’s work. He has enhanced the value of every “STAR TREK” show that his music has been used in.”

Educated at the Juilliard School of Music in composing and oboe, Fried began his career as a composer for short films and motion pictures for his childhood schoolmate and friend, legendary director Stanley Kubrick. He continued to work in film and was the conductor for Soylent Green, scored Roger Corman films, and many TV movies including the Gilligan’s Island movies. Fried went on to write music for a number of popular television shows in the 60s, including Gilligan’s Island, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lost in Space, Mission: Impossible, and, of course, Star Trek.

Fried received a 1975 Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score for the Lee Bergere-narrated documentary Birds Do It, Bees Do It. He then won an Emmy Award (shared with Quincy Jones) for his scoring on Roots, the acclaimed 1977 mini-series which starred LeVar Burton. Another mini-series he worked on was 1977’s Testimony of Two Men, co-directed by Leo Penn and starring Theodore Bikel, Jeff Corey, Logan Ramsey, and William Shatner. Fried was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards, and scored over 200 films and TV episodes. A very productive career in media.

After semi-retiring from film, Gerry moved to Santa Fe, NM in 1999 and became active in the new music scene in the arts-supporting city, and also played oboe in the Symphony. He still scored the occasional film, for example a Star Trek Phase II episode in 2004. He spent his final years in Connecticut.

Fried, who has been married four times and has three adult children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, said he looked back at his career with gratitude. “I’m not totally surprised, but the enormity of Star Trek is a little bit startling and wonderful.” “I got to do what I wanted to do” he said, “it was terrifying and exhilarating.”


David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.