By MIKE HALE
THE NEW YORK TIMES
October 21, 2009
Vic Mizzy, whose infernally catchy themes for the television comedies "The Addams Family" and "Green Acres" are as entrenched in the memories of Americans who grew up in the 1960s as any pop tune or protest anthem, died on Saturday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 93.
The cause was heart failure, said his daughter Lynn Mizzy Jonas.
In a musical career that stretched over eight decades, from radio shows to "Spider-Man 2," Mr. Mizzy wrote pop hits, novelty songs and movie scores, but his most enduring compositions were the two humorous theme songs he created in the mid-1960s. Asked in 1964 by his friend David Levy, the head of programming for NBC, to provide music for a new comedy called "The Addams Family," based on Charles Addams's sinister cartoons, Mr. Mizzy came up with a da-da-da-dum beat followed by two finger snaps.
The parody of beatnik ennui fit with the show’s satirical, proto-hipster humor. The theme, sung by Mr. Mizzy, was so distinctive that it remained popular far beyond the series’s two seasons.
Just one year later, Mr. Mizzy wrote the theme song for "Green Acres," a comedy about Manhattanites returning to the land, which ran from 1965 to 1971. Once again he combined a gallumphing rhythm (similar to the "Addams Family" opening but faster) with lyrics that stayed in the mind:
Green Acres is the place to be
Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.
As with the "Addams Family" theme, Mr. Mizzy was also involved in the direction of the title sequence.
Victor Mizzy was born on Jan. 9, 1916, in Brooklyn and grew up in Crown Heights. He attended Alexander Hamilton High School and New York University, where he wrote songs and sketches for campus shows. He later wrote for radio and Broadway with an early collaborator, Irving Taylor. Their pop songs included "Three Little Sisters" and "Take It Easy."
During and after World War II, in which he served in the Navy, Mr. Mizzy and a new partner, Manny Curtis, wrote a succession of songs , including "Pretty Kitty Blue Eyes," "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" and "The Whole World Is Singing My Song," that were performed by the top singers of the time.
Mr. Mizzy married the radio singer Mary Small, who performed many of his songs publicly for the first time, and the couple had two children. The marriage ended in divorce, as did a later marriage to Shirley Leeds. Besides his daughter Lynn, he is survived by a brother, Sol Mizzy; and two grandchildren. Another daughter, Patty Mizzy Keeler, died in 1995.
Before he worked on "The Addams Family" and "Green Acres," Mr. Mizzy had written music for other television shows, including "Shirley Temple's Storybook," "The Richard Boone Show" and "Kentucky Jones." His breakthrough film score was for the William Castle horror movie "The Night Walker" in 1964; his many later scores included those for the popular Don Knotts vehicles "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," "The Reluctant Astronaut" and "How to Frame a Figg."
Mr. Mizzy continued working well into his 80s, releasing a compilation of his work, "Songs for the Jogging Crowd," on his own label, Vicster Records, in 2003.
The director Sam Raimi asked Mr. Mizzy to write a theme for the 2004 film "Spider-Man 2," which was eventually used on the DVD release.
None of his output, however, could overshadow those snapping fingers in "The Addams Family." And that was fine with Mr. Mizzy. "That's why I'm living in Bel Air," he said last year on the CBS program "Sunday Morning." "Two finger snaps and you live in Bel Air."