DeVol wrote the music for
those lyrics that have burrowed into pop culture history
as the theme song for "The Brady
Bunch," the kitschy 1970s
sitcom enjoying perpetual life in rerun heaven.
One of Hollywood"s
most popular musical arranger-composer-conductors, DeVol
died Wednesday at age 88 in a nursing home in Lafayette,
His compositions include
classic TV themes for "My Three
Sons" and "Family
Affair," as well as songs
for such movies as "Pillow
Ever Happened to Baby Jane?", "Hush,
Hush, Sweet Charlotte," "The
Dirty Dozen" and "Guess
Who's Coming to Dinner."
He began to write music
for TV and film after a succesful career in radio during
the big band era, when he also arranged and conducted
recording sessions for such stars as Doris Day, Tony
Bennett, Jaye P. Morgan and Ella Fitzgerald.
During his seven-decade
career, he received five Academy Award and five Emmy
nominations. The latter included a nomination for the
"Brady Bunch" song,
which never failed to elicit the most rousing reaction
whenever he mentioned or played his compositions.
"People gave him
tremendous ovations when they found out what he
did," said Bob Weiss, DeVol's former publicist and
longtime family friend. "They say, "Oh, you're
"The Brady Bunch," you're
"My Three Sons."
DeVol was born in
Moundsville, W.Va., but was raised in Canton, Ohio, where
his father was band-leader for the local vaudeville
theater. DeVol joined the musicians union when he was 14
and played violin and piano for his father's band. Saving
his earnings from $35-a-week appearances at a Chinese
restaurant in Cleveland, learning to play it by watching
By the late 1930s, he was
playing and arranging for the Horace Heidt orchestra.
When guitarrist Alvino Rey left that band, DeVol began to
arrange for him.
By the early 1940s, DeVol
was living in California and working the graveyard shift
for Lockheed when he received a phone call from KHJ, then
a Mutual Network radio station, inviting him to be the
band-leader for a musical program. Before long, he was
musical director for a host of radio personalities,
including Ginny Simms, Rudi Vallee, Jack Smith, Dinah
Shore and Jack Carson. That led to DeVol reading parts in
comedies and becoming a radio personality himself.
Decades later, he married
another figure from the big band era, vocalist Helen
O'Connell. That marriage occurred in 1991, after the
death of DeVol's first wife, Grayce. O'Connell died in
DeVol's break into movies
and television came in 1954, when a friend got him a job
on a low-budget Robert Aldrich film called "World
for Ransom." The entire music
budget was only $3,500, but DeVol took it because "I
never turn anything down," he said. That movie
earned him his first Oscar nomination and established him
as a Hollywood composer. He wrote music for 16 Aldrich
movies alone, including the 1967 box office hit "The
By the early 1960s, DeVol
had movie composing down to a science. "I make a
chart," he told The Times in 1965. "If I"m
scoring a picture and I've got to write 85 minutes of
music and I've got only 15 days to do it, that means I've
got to produce five to six minutes of music a day. This
way I don't dawdle along."
All together, DeVol wrote
music for 47 movies and seven television series.
He also acted, making
appearances on the Jack Benny television show, the
original "Parent Trap" movie and
"Fernwood 2-Night," the 1977
sitcom about a talk show on which DeVol played a studio
orchestra leader who ran a dental office on the side.
Overshadowing all thos
accomplishments over a seven-decade career, however, was
that 21-line song about a "lovely lady" and
"a man named Brady" whose notes DeVol wrote in
Although never a ratings
hit, "The Brady Bunch" has
provided much grist for analysis in the pop culure mill.
Its depiction of a family happily solving mundane
disputes over who does the dishes or gets to use the
phonw was so far removed from Vietnam era woes that it
generated a camp following.
Whenever DeVol, who was
popular on the cruise circuit in his later years, spoke
of his work to audiences, he found it was always the
"Brady Bunch" tune that
stirred them most.
"When I mention
"Brady Bunch," he said a
few years ago, "that's when the audience really
DeVol, a longtime resident
of Toluca Lake before moving to San Juan Capistrano and
Laguna Hills, is survived by two daughters, Linda
Morehouse of Lafayette and Donna Copeland of Denver, and
A memorial service will be
held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in
Hollywood Hills. Donations may be sent to the Musicians
Relief Fund, 817 N. Vine St., Hollywood CA 90038.