'Titanic' composer dies in California plane crash at 61

Tue Jun 23, 2015 11:30pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood composer James Horner, who scored the Oscar-winning film "Titanic" and its megahit theme song "My Heart Will Go On", was killed when the private plane he was piloting crashed in southern California, his agents confirmed on Tuesday. He was 61.

Horner's agents, Michael Gorfaine and Sam Schwartz, said his single-engine plane crashed in the Los Padres National Forest, north of Los Angeles, on Monday morning.

"For more than three decades, his unique creative genius made an indelible imprint on each of our lives and on those of the entire Hollywood community," his agents said in a statement. "A shining light has been extinguished, which can never be replaced."

Local fire authorities said on Monday that there was no one else onboard the plane when it crashed, sparking a small brush fire.

Hollywood stars from Russell Crowe to Ron Howard took to Twitter to pay tribute to Horner. Celine Dion, who performed the "Titanic" theme song that netted Horner one of his two Academy Awards, also expressed sadness on social media.

"Shaken by the tragic death of James Horner. We send our prayers and deepest condolences to his family and friends," she tweeted.

Horner also composed the music for "Aliens", "The Karate Kid", "Braveheart" and a string of other major films. His scores for "Avatar", "A Beautiful Mind" and "House of Sand and Fog" earned Oscar nominations.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Edmund Klamann)

A fire fighter look over the crash site of a two-seater single engine S312 Tucano aircraft north of Santa Barbara, California June 23, 2015 in this handout photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.  REUTERS/Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via Reuters