YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Albert Sendrey, 91; Film, TV Composer

June 01, 2003|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer

Albert Sendrey, a motion picture and television orchestrator, arranger and composer who worked at MGM in the 1940s and '50s and became singer Tony Martin's longtime pianist, conductor and arranger, has died. He was 91.

Sendrey died of congestive heart failure May 18 at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills.

As a studio arranger and orchestrator, Sendrey -- though sometimes uncredited -- contributed to more than 170 movies, including "It Happened in Brooklyn," "A Date With Judy," "Bathing Beauty," "Neptune's Daughter," "An American In Paris," "Guys and Dolls," "Easter Parade," High Society," "The Yearling," "Ride the High Country," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "The Oscar" and "Finian's Rainbow."

He also wrote the music for Fred Astaire's famous ceiling dance in "Royal Wedding" and composed for "Father's Little Dividend" and other films, said his fellow composer and friend Scott Harper.

In television, Sendrey was the orchestrator for the 1956 production of "Peter Pan," starring Mary Martin. Among his other TV credits were "Bonanza," "Laramie," "Wagon Train," "Ben Casey," "The High Chaparral," "The Monroes," "SWAT" and various David L. Wolper documentaries.

In 1953, Sendrey began composing production numbers for the Riviera Hotel, the Royal Nevada and the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, collaborating with songwriter Sammy Cahn and comedy writer Sid Kuller.

From 1956 until about a year and a half ago, he worked as Martin's pianist, conductor and arranger.

Sendrey occasionally served in the same capacity for Donald O'Connor, Ray Bolger, Jane Powell, Marlene Dietrich, Howard Keel, Buddy Ebsen and other entertainers at Lake Tahoe and in Las Vegas.

"He was an excellent arranger, and he did many arrangements for me," Martin said Friday. "I liked his piano style too, because he felt for singers. He just seemed to have that inner sense of when to play an artistic run and when to just play soft and play low. He set tempos great."

Born Dec. 26, 1911, in Chicago, Sendrey grew up surrounded by music. His Hungarian-born father was the opera and symphony conductor, composer and musicologist Alfred Sendrey; his mother, Eugenia, had been a soprano at the Vienna Opera under Gustav Mahler.

Sendrey attended music schools in Paris, London and New York and earned his first movie credit composing for a French film in 1933. His entree to Hollywood came through a family friend, who was working in Los Angeles as Cole Porter's transcriber and arranger.

Sendrey is survived by five children, Charles, Sylvia, Christopher, Jenny and Anita; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. today at the retirement home, 23388 Mulholland Drive, Woodland Hills.

Los Angeles Times Articles