May 8, 2012 / 2:16 AM / 7 years ago

Orchestra leader Mort Lindsey dies, age 89

Orchestra leader, arranger, composer, and musical director Mort Lindsey is shown in this undated handout released to Reuters May 7, 2012 by the Lindsey family. REUTERS/Courtesy Lindsey Family/Handout

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Orchestra leader and composer Mort Lindsey, who worked for Merv Griffin and Judy Garland throughout a long career, has died at home in Malibu, California, following a long decline in health. He was 89.

His son, composer and producer Steve Lindsey, said his father died on May 4, after breaking his hip.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Lindsey is best known for his musical direction on Garland’s famous Carnegie Hall performances. Her April 23, 1961, concert was recorded and a live double album was released, entitled “Judy at Carnegie Hall”. The album spent 13 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart at the time and won four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year.

Lindsey also enjoyed a 25-year run as musical director for “The Merv Griffin Show” from 1962 to 1986, receiving nominations as bandleader for TV’s highest honors, the Emmys Awards.

He scored many film and television productions including “The Best Man,” “40 Pounds of Trouble,” and “I Could Go On Singing,” and he won an Emmy for his musical work on Barbra Streisand’s concert album “A Happening in Central Park”.

Lindsey received a doctorate degree in music education from Columbia University.

He is survived by his wife Judy, three sons and three daughters.

Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte; editing by Mohammad Zargham

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