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Thursday, December 15, 2005


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Birth: September 9, 1922 (Downy, California, USA)
Death: December 3, 2000 (Los Angeles, California, USA)



Bio Summary

Hoyt Curtin is best known for his musical work and theme songs for numerous Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. He composed music and theme songs for shows such as "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons," "Yogi Bear," "Smurfs," "Jonny Quest," and "Scooby Doo."

Early Life/Family

Hoyt Curtin was considered by some to be a prodigy. Raised on a ranch in near San Bernardino, California, with his father, owner of an insurcance agency and deputy assessor of San Bernardino County, Curtin began playing the piano at the age of five, and he was composing music by the time he was in sixth grade. At the age of twelve, Curtin was awarded a prize for his singing at a local movie theater's talent contest (SpaceAgePop). Curtin played with the bands and jazz ensembles in high school, and he even formed his own orchestra during his freshman year (Milt).


Hoyt Curtin studied music at the University of Southern California, earning a bachelor's degree and returning after World War II to complete his Masters (Milt).

Career Outline

Hoyt Curtin aimed to write musical scores for movies, but when he was unable to find work with movie studios, he ended up writing jingles for television and radio advertisements. He was noticed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera after recording a song for a beer commercial that they had produced. Hanna and Barbera then contacted Curtin to write a theme for their cartoon "Ruff and Ready" (SpaceAgePop).

"Ruff and Ready" was Curtin's first collaboration with Hanna and Barbera. After that, Curtin went on to compose nearly all the themes and music for Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The last music he wrote for a Hanna-Barbera cartoon was for Smurfs (1981), and he retired in 1992.

Comments On Style

Jean MacCurdy, president of Warner Bros. Animation, recalls that "Hoyt was the king of jingle-making," "His strong suit was coming up with the themes that almost anyone on the street could sing at the drop of a hat. He was really quite remarkable" (Woo)


Curtin was largely inspired by jazz music, as can be heard in his theme song for "The Flintstones," which Curtin described as "a catchy little tune; Just a simple thing arranged for jazz and singers." (Juddery)

He also wrote rock and pop influenced music for shows such as "The Cattanooga Cats," "Josie and the Pussycats," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids," and "The Partridge Family, 2200." (Juddery)


Hoyt Curtin's approach to scoring has been described as "rough and ready" (SpaceAgePop). He came up with his theme for "Ruff and Ready" within five minutes of receiving the lyrics, and he seldom wasted time during recording sessions. "Most cues were play it once and then record," he said of his Jonny Quest recording sessions.

Curtin was is also remembered as a someone who had fun doing what he loved. Joseph Barbera said in one interview: "We'd all have a good time, and I think the music shows it" (Woo).

Curtin recalled the recording session for the "Jonny Quest" theme. "I remember so well recording the MT at RCA in Hollywood," he wrote in a 1999 email interview "I had to stay in the booth because I was laughing so hard, watching my buddies, the bone players, trying to cut that tune! Nobody would quit of course. It was written in the worst possible key for trombones... LOVE IT!" (Karpinski)

While he seems to have loved the work he did, Curtin also welcomed time to relax. After retiring in 1992, he told an interviewer "It feels good not to be doing it anymore" (SpaceAgePop).


Hoyt Curtin purposefully composed his theme to Jonny Quest to be difficult to play as a test for the trombone players in his band. "'I wrote it in a killer key because I know how to play trombone and I know the hardest place to play is oall of the unknown, odd positions. There wasn't anything open. Just murder, E-flat minor.' The session players, he recalled, 'Killed themselves because nobody wanted to make a mistake. Nobody wanted to get carved'" (SpaceAgePop)


Hoyt Curtin had a keen interest in gadgets. He invented a design for an underground lawn sprinkler, and he put together a synthesizer studio in one room of his house. (SpaceAgePop)


Hoyt Curtin composed music and theme songs for many TV cartoon series, including:

The Ruff & Reddy Show (1957)
Flintstones (1960)
Top Cat (1961)
The Jetsons (1962)
Jonny Quest (1964)
Wacky Races (1968)
Josie and the Pussycats (1970)
The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972)
Yogi's Gang (1973)
Butch Cassidy (1973)
Smurfs (1981)

A more complete filmography can be found at the Internet Movie Database.


Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 2000

Related Links

General Information

Articles About Hoyt Curtin


Bibliographic References

Juddery, Mark. "Tributes - 2000: Hoyt Curtin." 2005.

Karpinski, Gary. "A Conversation with Hoyt Curtin." Classic Jonny Quest. 1999.

Milt, Clara. "Hoyt Curtin, 1922-2000." 11 December 2000. The Internet Obituary Network.

SpaceAgePop. "Hoyt Curtin." Space Age Pop Music. 2006.

Woo, Elaine. "Hoyt Curtin; Composer of Cartoon Music." 27 December 2005. The Curtin Clan Association Genealogical Centre.

Contributors To This Listing

Raymond Fero

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