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Louise Elian, 96; Harpist With Studio, Broadway Orchestras

July 16, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Louise Klos Steiner Elian, 96, a harpist whose music was heard on the original scores of such classic movies as "Gone With the Wind" and "Casablanca," died July 7 in West Palm Beach, Fla. The cause of death was not reported.

Elian was a leading harpist during Hollywood's golden era of the 1930s and '40s. She was married for 10 years to Max Steiner, a pioneer of original film music, who scored "Casablanca," "Gone With the Wind," "The Informer," "Now, Voyager" and other memorable films.

Elian performed on all those films, as well as "King Kong," "Modern Times," "Thief of Bagdad" and many musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Born in St. Joseph, Mo., she began studying music as a young child and fell in love with the harp after moving to Los Angeles and seeing one in a store window when she was 12. By 17, she was playing at the Hollywood Bowl, and by 22, she was working in studio orchestras.

After her divorce from Steiner, she worked in Europe for several years, where one of her jobs was to teach Peter Ustinov to play the lyre for the movie "Quo Vadis." When she returned to the U.S., she played in Broadway orchestras.

In 1963, she married floral designer Frederick Elian, who died in 1983. She continued to perform with symphonies well into her 80s.

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