John Towner Williams was born on February 8, 1932, in Floral Park, New York, USA. His father was a jazz drummer and percussionist in the CBS Radio Orchestra and the Raymond Scott Quintette. After moving to Los Angeles in 1948, he attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles City College, where he studied orchestration under MGM musical associate Robert van Eps and was privately tutored by composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. In 1952, he was drafted into the United States Air Force, spending the next two years conducting and arranging music for Air Force bands. Afterwards, he went to the famous music school Juilliard in New York, where he was able to improve his piano performance skills under the tutelage of the renowned Madame Rosina Levinne. Later, he returned to Los Angeles and worked as a piano player for film studios. In 1956, he became a staff arranger at Columbia Pictures, and then at 20th Century Fox. His combined dream of music and film were merged. As "Johnny" Williams, he composed music to such classical TV series like Wagon Train, Gilligan's Island, and Bachelor Father. These works paved the way for him to Irwin Allen's Lost in Space. He achieved success with None But the Brave (1965), followed by an Oscar nomination for Valley of the Dolls in 1968. Four years later, he won the Oscars for Best Music, Scoring Adaptation, and Original Song Score for Fiddler on the Roof. Much of what he worked on won him awards and nominations. He became one of the most popular composers and was mentioned with talent equal to Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, and Elmer Bernstein. He had six nominations within five years, among them two double-nominations in 1969 and 1972 for the films Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Rievers, Images, The Poseidon Adventure, Cinderella Liberty, and Hell Tower. In 1974, he met Steven Spielberg, then just a novice director, who asked him to write music for The Sugarland Express. For their next film, Jaws, Williams...
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