The Whistler

You Don’t Know His Name, But You Know His Tune

That’s the way he introduced himself to my class four decades (or so) ago.

Earle H. Hagen, who co-wrote the jazz classic “Harlem Nocturne” and composed memorable themes for “The Andy Griffith Show,” “I Spy,” “The Mod Squad” and other TV shows, died Monday. He was 88.

Hagen, who is heard whistling the folksy tune for “The Andy Griffith Show,” died at his home in Rancho Mirage, his wife, Laura, said Tuesday. He had been in ill health for several months.

For us, he whistled many tunes, most with a patriotic theme that accompanied his patriotic message – a brave thing to do in those days just preceding My Lai. He whistled two tunes at once – perfectly. That was enough to surprise and amuse us kids.

For television, he composed original music for more than 3,000 episodes, pilots and TV movies, including theme songs for “That Girl,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”

“He loved it,” his wife said. “The music just flowed from him, and he would take off one hat and put on another and go on to the next show.”

It seem so to me, too.

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