Fans and friends made their way to Palm Springs on April 19, 2003 to witness the unveiling of Earle Hagen's Golden Palm on the city's famed Walk of Stars.
Here's a report on the festivities, starting with Earle Hagen's own words in response to the tribute star.
With his usual wit - see the REFLECTIONS section, he "put the occasion into perspective."
"I am overwhelmed by this show of kindness and friendship, because that is what it is.
However, as the author of a book entitled: ”Memoirs of a Famous Composer-Nobody Ever Heard Of,” I find it significant that my star is adjacent to that of a singer - Nobody Ever Heard Of. [Elvis Presley]
As a matter of fact, some years ago I did the main title arrangement for a Fox picture called “Love Me Tender.” In the reviews of that picture, not once did they mention my arrangement. Although my neighbor made a fortune off that song, he never called to thank me and I never met him-he was long gone by the time they called me in - so I never knew him - consequently, I don't miss him.
It's interesting that destiny decrees that the two of us remain side by side in anonymity. I can hear people walking past our stars and saying: “I know who Cheeta The Chimp [whose star is on the other side of Earle Hagen's] is, but I wonder what these two guys did.
One of the great malapropisms of Yogi Berra was: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I not only seemed to guess right on the roads I took, but they would invariably lead me to someone who would alter my direction, and therefore change my life.
Lou was the first. Lou Hagen, my beloved wife, was a pretty little lady from a farm in Southern Illinois. She spent most of her adult life supporting and encouraging my children and me to move on and become better than we were. I loved Lou dearly- I miss her -and I always will. I am sorry she is not here today. Perhaps she is.
One road took me to Twentieth Century Fox Studios and Alfred Newman, the dean of film composers and the mark of excellence in the film industry. And in television, another took me to Sheldon Leonard and then Ernie Frankel.
Presently, all roads have taken me to my two closest friends, Dr. Brom Beckerman and Jeff McClosky, both of whom have conspired to keep me alive for the past ten years. And of this very moment, they have succeeded.
I especially want to thank Jeff and Laura Ann Roberts who have worked so hard to put this afternoon together. I am very grateful to both of them.
I have had a long and interesting career, which I still measure by the friends I have made along the way.
I only have to look around me to realize how rich I am.
Thank you all for being here."
A very special moment in the day came when Deborah Young-Groves spoke.
"Earle I cannot believe I am standing here today.
My name is Deborah Young-Groves and I am from Canada. I represent myself, as well as your two other new friends, Chantal , from Ireland, and Debby Lazar from Washington DC who is here with me today.
How do you concentrate all your vibrant years into a few words? I can't even try but I do know it was ALWAYS about the music.
One of my earliest memories is sitting enthralled in front of the television listening to your slow-jazz rendition of the “Londonderry Air” from the Danny Thomas Show.
I was FIVE years old, but I never forgot it.
Fast forward to 1965 and I SPY. I had never anticipated a series more. I knew your friend Sheldon Leonard had filmed the series beginning in Hong Kong & Japan. I loved the Orient and I knew I would love I SPY and I did.
But what I never counted on was the deep abiding love I would have for your music. Your music completed the series emotional architecture, whether it was passion, courage, pathos or elegance. It was the golden thread that wove emotion into every exotic episode and it was different EVERY week for 82 different weeks.
Earle you will never know what that music did for me. It made me feel anything was possible. There was a whole glittering world out there waiting to be discovered. And when you're 13, that is really something.
Maybe because this was PRE-VCR this series remained precious to me all my life.
It was through the INTERNET that I met Chantal , whom I have previously mentioned, and who designed the web page for your birthday 2 years ago. It was SHE who made it possible for me to contact you, and thus write the article about you for “Film Score Monthly.”
I also met the lovely Debby Lazar, whom I love like a sister. The final chapter in this fairy story was our visit here last November. Your hospitality towards us was overwhelming.
Our Only Regret is that we never met your lovely wife LOU, whom I am certain is here today in spirit.
From “Harlem Nocturne,” to “Mod Squad,” whether it was the poignant theme from “Tatia” … or the hopeful landscape of “Home To Judgement” … or the haunting eloquence of “The Warlord,” your music always held such enormous visceral power.
And like this star, the beauty of your music is everlasting.
Today we celebrate the vast geography of your genius, your laser wit, your cheery hospitality, your puckish nature- GOOD GOD what's left to say?
On behalf of Chantal, Debby and myself, we wish you the very best, today and always. We are thrilled to be part of this.
Your friendship has a value that is beyond price."
The following is an appreciation by close friend and collaborator of Earle Hagen, the novelist and producer Ernest Frankel:
“Earle's teacher in grammar school gave him a Silver star to wear on his forehead.
His mother and father gave him a star of David to wear around his neck. It was one way to protect him as he set out with a band of drinking, gambling, woman-chasing musicians at the tender age of seventeen.
But, until today, no one ever gave him a star for being BMI's most prolific composer.
No one ever gave him a star for having added `Harlem Nocturne' to the honoured list of memorable American standards.
No one ever gave him a star when he received his Emmy.
No one ever gave him a star for his unchallenged position as one of the most persistent, most accomplished shoppers in the history of the civilized world, a title he has held since Neiman met Marcus.
No one ever gave him a star for whistling his way, via Andy Griffith, to being the ninety-eighth wealthiest man at Morningside.
No one ever gave him a star for having more surgeon's knives carving on his carcass than Michael Jackson has had carving on his nose.
No one ever gave him a star celebrating a career that first bloomed as a trombonist with Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman and Ray Noble, and later, soared as an arranger and composer with the greatest names in entertainment from Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Monroe, and still later as the author of the
definitive textbook on scoring for films, and the autobiography, `Memoirs of A Famous Composer Nobody Ever Heard Of.'
Today Louise and I, and all of you, are privileged to be present to see Earle Hagen get his star for all those reasons and more. For the awesome arsenal of his talent. For his integrity. For his loyalty. For his humor. For his wisdom. For his capacity for friendship. And for his contribution as a citizen of the desert, where he has continued to make everyone's life richer and happier and filled with music.”
Later in 2003 Earle Hagen was honored by the Society of Composers and Lyricists. In connection with the award, Bruce Babcock - who was present at the above event - interviewed him for the SCL periodical.
Earle Hagen greets Best of All Worlds Team, Deborah Young-Groves and Debby Lazar on their arrival at Palm Springs Airport to attend ceremonies.