Friday, December 17, 2010

Newman's own

Last night I had the best time at my office party. And one highlight was, I was talking to my friend Jerry's girlfriend Melinda, and she told me that when she was a kid she met Alfred Newman.

Of course Howard is there with me and he is bouncing all over the walls and he could not shut up about Alfred E. Neuman. But this was Alfred Newman whom Melinda was talking about. The movie score composer.

He wrote the music to "Wuthering Heights" which is the reason the 1939 version is the only one I love. All others are intolerable to me because that music is not there.

That ending.. Gaaaaaaa....

When movies were movies. When music was music. When screen deaths were screen deaths.

Where was I?

Alfred Newman. I could not believe Jerry's girlfriend Melinda had met him.She was a kid. I Googled Mr. Newman and he died in 1970. He married an actress and Goldwyn Girl -- now there is a title -- named Martha Louise Montgomery. She was from Clarksdale, Miss. They had five children. His nephew is Randy Newman. One of Alfred Newman's sons is some kind of musical figure too but it is too late tonight to get that all straight. I do not want to do research on a night like this. I want to wallow in "Wuthering Heights."

It says something about the way movies were back then that the music to "Wuthering Heights" that I love so much was nominated for an Oscar, it did not win. Back then you had serious competition. It was up against "The Wizard of Oz" and also "Gone With the Wind." "The Wizard of Oz" won.

What a year for movies, 1939. Here are the Oscars. Brooding, black-and-white "Wuthering Heights" won for Best Cinematography.

Here is something that you could not make up. Alfred E. Neuman ...

... was in fact named for Alfred Newman, in a roundabout way. There was a character in a drama named after the composer, and the cartoon was named after the character. They changed the spelling. You can sort it all out here.

So there is a connection. Who knew?

I wonder how Alfred Newman felt about that.


  1. The Alfred E. Neuman link is interesting, especially the Irish immigrant connection. The great 19th century caricaturist Thomas Nast drew the immigrant Irish as monkeys, and I wonder if you ever saw the Nast drawing of the Irish bishops crawling into the American shoreline. The tops of their mitres were open like shark mouths and were filled with teeth. Libel laws today would kill those cartoons before they saw print. Before you (or anonymous, the other day) get your backs up about what I've written here, I do have Irish blood in me.

  2. Prof. G, I did not know that, about Nast's drawing of the Irish bishops! Is that where Nasty comes from?

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