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Frank Churchill

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Frank Churchill (October 20, 1901 in Rumford, Maine - May 14, 1942 in Newhall, California) (age 40) was a U.S. composer of popular music for films. He wrote most of the music for Disney's 1937 movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, including "Whistle While You Work" and "Some Day My Prince Will Come". The latter (without the Larry Morey lyrics) became a jazz standard covered by various jazz greats including Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck.


Churchill began his career playing piano in cinemas at the age of 15. After dropping out of medical studies at the University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a career in music, he became accompanist at the Los Angeles radio station KNX (AM) in 1924.

He joined Disney studios in 1930, and scored many animated shorts - his song for The Three Little Pigs, Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf, was a huge commercial success.

In 1937, he was chosen to score Disney's first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His catchy, artfully written songs played a large part in the film's initial success and continuing popularity.

Because of the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Churchill became supervisor of music at Disney helping with Disney's second animated film Pinocchio. In 1942, Churchill and fellow composer Oliver Wallace won an Oscar in the category "Scoring of a Musical Picture" for cowriting the score for Dumbo. He also shared an Oscar nomination with Ned Washington for the song "Baby Mine" from Dumbo for Best Song. A year later, Churchill received two posthumous Oscar nominations; the first for cowriting the score to Bambi with Edward Plumb, and the second for cowriting the song "Love is a Song" from Bambi with lyricist Larry Morey.

Frank Churchill committed suicide on May 14, 1942 at his ranch north of Los Angeles in Castaic, California. He is purportedly to have died "at the piano" of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Although there is some speculation that his suicide was a result of negative discourse with Walt Disney regarding his latest scores for Bambi, it was more likely due to his deep depression and bought with heavy drinking after the deaths of two of his closest friends and fellow Disney orchestra members who had passed away earlier that year within a month of each other.



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