Walter Greene

Born in 1910, Walter Greene’s musical career began at an early age when his uncle taught him the clarinet.  A native of Tarkio, Missouri, Greene graduated from Tarkio High School, where as a senior he moonlighted as the leading baritone at the Tarkio College Men’s Glee Club.  After his freshman year at Tarkio College he played clarinet in the Kansas City Symphony and married a Tarkio girl, Ruth E. Carpenter.  He graduated from the Horner Conservatory in Kansas City and Tarkio College, and then toured with and arranged for big bands led by Orville Knapp, Freddy Martin, Horace Heidt, Wayne King, Xavier Cugat, and Harry James.  He also arranged, orchestrated, composed, and conducted music for radio, records, live acts, musicals, television, commercials, short subjects, and films. 

While on staff at M-G-M, Greene arranged special material for Fred Astaire, Kathryn Grayson, Tony Martin, and Danny Kaye, and he wrote a lot of music for cartoons, including The Pink Panther, Speedy Gonzalez, and especially Woody Woodpecker.  Some of his TV work was for The Ann Sothern Show, Bozo the Clown, The Inspector, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and The New Three Stooges.  Greene’s film music included The Brain From Planet Arous, Carnival Rock, Crime, Inc., Frontier Woman, Ghost Town Renegades, Jesse James’ Women, Mark of the Lash, The Mask of Diijon, Naked Gun, Queen of Burlesque, Return of the Lash, Son of Billy the Kid, A Squeak in the Deep, Tarzan’s Deadly Silence, Teenage Monster, Teenage Thunder, and The Westward Trail.  A few of his songs were “Time Ran Out,” “That’s Our Love Song,” “Autumn In Georgia,” and “Stars Over America.”  He was nominated for an Oscar® in 1945 for PRC’s Why Girls Leave Home.

The composer always had close ties with his Missouri home, and he was listed in the Los Angeles phone directory as “Walter Tarkio Greene” for the convenience of hometown friends who might be visiting L. A. Greene composed the musical score for “Bicentennial,” which climaxed Tarkio’s observance of the United States’ 200th birthday.  He received a Doctor of Humane Letters at Tarkio College’s 92nd Commencement, where he noted, “I’ll bet I am the only writer of music for Woody Woodpecker, ever, to receive an honorary degree.”  Walter Greene passed away on December 23, 1983 at his Apple Valley home in Victorville, California. 

 

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