Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Ben Lanzarone, ‘Dynasty’ and ‘Happy Days’ Composer, Dies at 85

Ben Lanzarone, ‘Dynasty’ and ‘Happy Days’ Composer, Dies at 85

Renowned composer Ben Lanzarone, celebrated for his musical contributions to classic TV shows such as Happy Days and The Love Boat, has died. He passed away in Los Angeles on February 16th at the age of 85 due to lung cancer, Variety reports.

Lanzarone was honored with ASCAP’s “Most Performed Composer Award” for his television scores. He composed music for popular shows like The Tracy Ullman Show and Mr. Belvedere. He also collaborated on scores for series such as Dynasty, Vegas, and Hotel. Additionally, he created music for episodes of Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy.

Throughout their 46-year marriage, Ilene Graff, an actor and singer, and her husband Lanzarone maintained a professional partnership spanning stage, screen, live performances, and recordings. Their collaboration led to a Grammy nomination for the album “Baby’s Broadway Lullabies.” The couple also hosted the workshop “Making the Song Your Own,” assisting vocalists in connecting with music and stage presence. Alongside their daughter, Broadway performer Nikka Graff Lanzarone, they curated captivating cabaret shows in New York City and Los Angeles.

Ilene Graff and Ben Lanzarone in 2021 (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Along with Being a Composer for TV, Ben Lanzarone Was a Prolific Musician

After graduating from the High School of Music and Art in New York City and earning dual Master’s Degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, Lanzarone began his career as a classical pianist. He toured the nation as a soloist with the Longines Symphonette before his solo debut at Carnegie Recital Hall.

Renowned for his versatility, Lanzarone excelled as a musical arranger, director, and pianist, leaving a lasting impact in popular music through his collaboration with Bob Crewe and Charles Fox. The album In Classic Form highlighted his prowess as a classical and jazz pianist. Subsequently, Lanzarone continued to craft arrangements for Crewe’s projects. He contributed to the recordings of acclaimed artists like Bobby Darin, Vikki Carr, and The Bob Crewe Generation.

As a musical director and pianist, Lanzarone toured with renowned artists such as Frank Sinatra, Art Garfunkel, Mary Travers, and Mason Williams. He held the musical director role in the original Broadway production of Grease. Lanzarone also provided musical arrangements for other Broadway productions like Via Galactica and Truckload.

Lanzarone was actively involved in numerous charitable organizations such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and The Entertainment Community Fund. He is survived by his wife, Graff; daughter, Graff Lanzarone; brothers, Frank and Peter Lanzarone; brothers-in-law, Richard and Todd Graff; nieces, and nephews.