Paul Sawtell

Born in Gilve, Polish Prussia, on February 3, 1906, Paul Sawtell studied at conservatories in Essen, Munich, and Berlin, and performed as a violin soloist with many European orchestras. He came to the U. S. in 1923, conducting theater orchestras in Chicago (including the Biograph), as well as conducting at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.  Sawtell played violin in concerts and on the radio, and he was a staff member at NBC radio in Cleveland.  In 1935 he moved to Hollywood, where he arranged music for the orchestras of David Broekman, Andre Kostelanetz, and Victor Young.  Sawtell conducted for radio shows including Jack Benny’s, and began his Hollywood career at RKO before moving on to Universal. 

In 1953 he became a part of Irwin Allen’s production team, scoring The Sea Around Us, The Animal World, The Story of Mankind, The Big Circus, The Lost World, Five Weeks in a Balloon, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  Sawtell was an amazingly-fast composer, and he scored an incredible number of motion pictures, which he told friends was to help him pay his alimony.  Beginning in the late 1950s, he worked with partner Bert Shefter on many productions.

Some of the films he wrote music for were Adventures of Red Ryder, Arrowhead, The Black Scorpion, Cattle Empire, The Christine Jorgensen Story, The Cosmic Man, Crime Doctor’s Warning, Drums of Fu Manchu, The Falcon in San Francisco, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Flaming Feather, The Fly, Fortunes of Captain Blood, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Jack the Giant Killer, Jungle Woman, Keeper of the Bees, King of the Royal Mounted, The Last Man on Earth, Mexican Spitfire, Motor Psycho, Mr. Winkle Goes to War, Pony Express, Raiders of the Seven Seas, Return of the Fly, River Lady, She Devil, The Son of Dr. Jekyll, Tarzan and the Huntress, and Tarzan’s Desert Mystery

In the 1950s he helped form the TV Music Department at Warner Brothers, and his TV scores include Bourbon Street Beat, Colt .45, Hawaiian Eye, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, and Sugarfoot.  He also worked on Irwin Allen’s series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, for which he wrote the memorable title theme.  His songs include “Every Day Is Mother’s Day,” “What Have I Got Of My Own?” and “West Of Gallatan.”  Paul Sawtell died on August 1, 1971.

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