Pictured are Van Alexander and Dan Foliart at the 2005 SCL Holiday Dinner. The following is the text of Dan’s introduction of Van at that dinner:
The SCL created the Ambassador Program two years ago to recognize and acknowledge a select group of composers and lyricists without whose valuable contributions our profession would be less than it is; without whose creativity our artistic community would be lacking and without whose gift, our society would be deprived of wonderful music and song expressed by their genius. Their achievements will be used as the ultimate standard for future generations of film composers and songwriters. Those honorees have been Earle Hagen, Ray Evans, Ray Charles, Vic Mizzy, and the Sherman Brothers. Van Alexander just keeps moving forward despite the fact that he composed and arranged his first number one hit in 1938. Van Alexander’s youthful spirit and incredible body of work has been recognized on numerous occasions.
Recognized he has been. Not only has he been nominated for three Emmy Awards for his work on The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters, Gene Kelly’s Wonderful World of Girls, and The Golddiggers, but he was elected to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1986 for co-writing and arranging Ella Fitzgerald’s “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” which stayed at the number one spot for an amazing 19 weeks. He was given the ASCAP Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, and had the distinction of being one of the inaugural recipients of the prestigious Golden Score Award given by the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers in 1995.
Van recently arranged a twelve minute medley for Michael Feinstein and was acknowledged from the stage at Carnegie Hall. Michael recognized, as so many artists through the years knew,that a Van Alexander arrangement was something special. His first arranging job was with Chick Webb at the Savoy Ballroom, but he later worked with some of the greatest names in the big band era, Benny Goodman, Paul Whiteman and Les Brown to mention only a few. Some of the performers that were fortunate enough to sing to Van’s charts inclue Dinah Shore, Doris Day, Carol Channing, Lena Horn and Dean Martin, with whom he worked with over an eight year period as arranger and assistant conductor on his weekly series. He was generous enough to share his techiques with many aspiring students and colleagues. One such student in the early forties said, „I couldn’t have found a better teacher, he threw me in the water and said, Swim!“ That student was Johnny Mandel.
Van came to California with Bob Crosby in 1945 and has stayed here ever since. He has composed the music for numerous films starring Mickey Rooney, Joan Crawford and one that I watched religiously when I was an aspiring athlete back at Chandler Baseball Camp in Oklahoma. It was called Safe at Home and starred Mickey Mantle and Roger Marris.He has scored hunderds of episodes of television including „the Donna Reed Show, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and five years of Hazel. He has felt the community spirit having served as president of both the LA Chapter of NARAS and ASMAC.
We are very pleased to extend our love and admiration to Van Alexander tonight as our fifth SCL Ambassador and wish him continued success as he moves through his eighth decade in our business.