Joel Hirschhorn

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Screen composer Joel Hirschhorn earned a pair of Academy Awards co-writing themes to two of the biggest disaster films of the early '70s, The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. Born in the Bronx,…
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Screen composer Joel Hirschhorn earned a pair of Academy Awards co-writing themes to two of the biggest disaster films of the early '70s, The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. Born in the Bronx, NY, in 1938, Hirschhorn attended New York City's High School for the Performing Arts and later studied at Hunter College. After fronting the rock band the Highlighters, he turned his focus to songwriting, establishing a long-running partnership with Columbia Records producer Al Kasha. After some limited success in the late '60s, most notably landing their "Your Time Hasn't Come Yet Baby" on the soundtrack to the 1967 Elvis Presley vehicle Speedway, Hirschhorn and Kasha hit paydirt when their song "The Morning After" was featured in The Poseidon Adventure, the Hollywood blockbuster about a luxury liner capsized by a giant wave. Recorded by Maureen McGovern, "The Morning After" proved a major pop hit, and in 1973 won its authors an Academy Award. Hirschhorn and Kasha repeated the trick two years later with "We May Never Love Like This Again," their Oscar-winning theme to The Towering Inferno, an all-star feature spotlighting a high-rise engulfed in flames. The duo also earned Oscar nominations in 1977 for their score to the animated Pete's Dragon, with singer Helen Reddy's version of their "Candle on the Water" also nominated for Best Original Song. In 1981 Hirschhorn and Kasha turned to Broadway with the Tony-nominated Copperfield, a year later receiving another Tony bid for their work on the updated Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In all, Hirschhorn and Kasha's songs sold over 90 million records, and they even collaborated on three books: 1979's If They Ask You, You Can Write a Song, 1985's Notes on Broadway, and 1986's Reaching the Morning After. On his own, Hirschhorn wrote 2001's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Songwriting. That same year, he and wife Jennifer wrote Musical Chairs, a play produced in North Hollywood. Hirschhorn served as a theater critic for Variety at the time of his death on September 17, 2005.