David Rose


One of the busiest composer-conductors in Hollywood history, David Rose wrote such famous instrumentals as “Holiday for Strings” and “The Stripper” but also had an active career in radio, films and ultimately television, where he won four Emmy awards as a composer and music director.

Born in London and raised in Chicago, Rose began playing piano for bandleader Ted Fio Rito when he was just 16; by the early 1930s he was leading the house orchestra at Chicago’s WGN and by 1940 had moved to California for his own radio show “California Melodies.” He met comedian Red Skelton during their wartime Army service and Rose became Skelton’s music director first on radio, then for the entire 20-year run of Skelton’s television variety show. He also won his first Emmy as musical director for AN EVENING WITH FRED ASTAIRE (1958).

Rose earned two Oscar nominations, for his score for THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE (1944) and the song “So in Love” from WONDER MAN (1945). He scored such film classics including OPERATION PETTICOAT (1959) and HOMBRE (1967), but it was in television where he really made his mark, scoring over 300 episodes of BONANZA (1959-73, winning an Emmy), more than 200 of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE (1974-83, two more Emmys) and more than 100 of HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN (1984-89). Along the way there were themes for other series including THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, BRACKEN’S WORLD, HIGHWAY PATROL, SEA HUNT and FATHER MURPHY. He died in 1990.

–Jon Burlingame