By Jon Burlingame
Composer James Horner, who won two Oscars for the music of “Titanic” and scored such other blockbusters as “Avatar,” “Braveheart,” “Apollo 13″ and “A Beautiful Mind,” died Monday in a plane crash in Ventura County, Variety has confirmed. He was 61.
A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics - From 'A Beautiful Mind'
The two-seater single-engine S312 Tucano crashed north of Santa Barbara about 9:30 Monday morning and sparked a brush fire that was extinguished by country fire crews. Horner, a trained pilot, was alone in the plane, which was completely destroyed.
Horner was one of the most popular film composers of the past 30 years, and his “Titanic” soundtrack – with its hit Celine Dion song, “My Heart Will Go On,” written with Will Jennings – became the biggest-selling movie-score album of all time, selling an estimated 30 million units worldwide.
He scored more than 100 films in all and was often in demand for big popcorn movies. Most recent were “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Karate Kid” remake, but he also scored “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Perfect Storm,” “Clear and Present Danger,” “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and “Aliens.”
He was born Aug. 14, 1953, in Los Angeles, the son of production designer Harry Horner. He spent his formative years in London, attending the Royal College of Music, but he returned to L.A. and earned his bachelor’s degree in music at the USC and did post-graduate work at UCLA.
Horner began his career with AFI shorts and low-budget Roger Corman films including “The Lady in Red” and “Battle Beyond the Stars,” quickly graduating to major studio films including “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.” His 1980s output demonstrated his versatility, including scores for “48 Hrs.,” “Cocoon,” “Willow” and “Field of Dreams.”
In the 1990s he added “The Rocketeer,” “Sneakers,” “Patriot Games,” “Legends of the Fall” and “Ransom” to his resume before hitting the jackpot, both financially and awards-wise, with “Titanic.” In addition to his two Oscars, he won song and score Golden Globes for the James Cameron film.
He received eight other Oscar nominations, including seven for the scores of “Aliens,” “Field of Dreams,” “Apollo 13,” “Braveheart,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “House of Sand and Fog” and “Avatar.”