Will Schaefer, composer (with George Bruns) for the 1970 Disney animated feature The Aristocats, died June 30, 2007 in Palm Desert, California of cancer. He was 78.
A conductor and arranger as well, Schaefer composed for the TV cartoon series The Flintstones, The Yogi Bear Show, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Super Friends and The Godzilla Power Hour.
Schaefer wrote many tunes for Walt Disney Studios. In Los Angeles from 1966 for Disney, he orchestrated about 30 episodes of The Wonderful World of Disney, including "Mickey's 50" (1978), as well as sections of many Disney films.
"Now That We're Men" -- a song that he co-wrote with Stephen Hillenburg, Derek Drymon, Tim Hill, Kent Osborne, Paul Tibbitt and Aaron Springer -- was heard on the soundtrack of 2004's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. It was performed by voice actors from the Nickelodeon cartoon feature film.
He composed music for the live Disneyland attractions Pirates of the Caribbean, America the Beautiful, Bear Country, It's a Small World and Innoventions.
On live-action TV, Schaefer composed for many series: Lamp Unto My Feet, Armstrong Circle Theatre, House Party, The Blue Angel, The Phil Silvers Show, Mr. Adams and Eve, Straightaway, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Hogan's Heroes, I Dream of Jeannie and The Flying Nun.
Schaefer orchestrated the TV series Studio One, Sid Caesar Invites You, The Sid Caesar Show and The Jackie Gleason Show. In addition, he conducted music for Gunsmoke, Barnaby Jones and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
He composed music for the movies Old Yeller (1957), The Shaggy Dog (1959), Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus (1960) and Forgotten Heroes (1990). Though uncredited, he was an orchestrator for Blake Edwards' 10 (1979).
He was born Willis H. Schaefer on November 23, 1928 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Schaefer was educated at Mary D. Bradford High School in Kenosha (1994 Distinguished Alumni Award), De Paul University (BM, Distinguished Alumni Award) and Northwestern University (MA and graduate work extending into study for a Doctor of Music degree).
From 1951 to 1954, he was assistant conductor and arranger for the 5th Army Band, Special Services at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, where he wrote music for Radio Free Europe, the Voice of America and local stations.
Following his military service, Schaefer came to New York. He composed, conducted and arranged for commercials for such products as Pillsbury, Post Cereals, Ford, Chevrolet and over 700 others. While in the Big Apple, he arranged for the Buddy Rich and Count Basie bands, as well as 13 Broadway musicals, including What Makes Sammy Run?, Kicks & Company, The Prince and the Showgirl and Spotlight.
The writer of over 150 songs and instrumentals, he created such works as "Midnight Matinee," "Caribeguine," "Autumn Beguine," "Overture - Fanfare and Capriccio" and "Ballada."