Final Note: Sid Ramin

Life Member. Orchestrator
1/22/1919 – 7/1/2019

by Ron Ramin, Local 47 Life Member

My dad, Sid Ramin (January 22, 1919-July 1, 2019), was a member of a select group of artists who have earned an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and a Grammy Award. He was a longtime member of Local 802 in NYC as well as a Life Member of Local 47.

Born in Boston, he served in the U.S. Army for five years during World War II. His special duties included composing and arranging music for the original productions that entertained the troops in Europe.

Sid attended Columbia University on the GI Bill. He began his career as the chief music arranger for Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater. When the variety show moved from NY to LA, he’d fly coast to coast every two weeks — in a time before commercial jet travel — to work with music director Victor Young and the musicians of Local 47.

Sid provided the orchestrations for more than a dozen Broadway musicals, including West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Wildcat, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.  Throughout his career he worked closely with his childhood friend Leonard Bernstein, as well as with composers Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Adler and Cy Coleman. He also co-orchestrated (with Irv Kostal) Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place (opera and orchestral suite) as well as Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Mr. Bernstein dedicated Symphonic Dances “to Sid Ramin, in friendship.”

Beginning in the early ‘60s Sid composed and arranged the music for some of the most famous jingles in advertising history. Soft drinks (Pepsi, Diet Pepsi), perfume (Charlie), detergent (Woolite), toothpaste (Ultra Brite), and airlines (Lufthansa, TWA) are among the products to which he gave a musical identity. Sid was awarded 12 Clio Awards. His award-winning Diet Pepsi commercial became the hit song Music to Watch Girls By, subsequently recorded by more than 150 artists worldwide. 

In 1961, Sid received an Academy Award for musical supervision of the film version of West Side Story. In the mid 1960s, he composed the iconic theme music for The Patty Duke Show and was musical director for Candid Camera. In L.A. he composed and conducted Stiletto (1969 feature film), Nancy (1970-71 NBC television series) and Miracle on 34th Street (1973 remake).

John Williams and the Boston Pops commissioned Sid to arrange many symphonic works for their repertoire. These orchestral tributes to Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Kern, and Fred Astaire, among others, continue to be performed regularly by the Pops. He was also commissioned on several occasions by music director John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

In 1999 Sid was honored with The Irwin Kostal Tribute Award from ASMAC.

A longtime resident of New York, Sid loved coming to “the Coast” to record with members of Local 47; he considered LA his second home. He had the good fortune to become friends with many wonderful composers, orchestrators and players in the Hollywood community. When I moved to LA to compose in 1975, I was moved by the affectionate words everyone had for my dad. “Sid’s such a talented and nice man,” they’d tell me. This wasn’t news to me. He was also a wonderful father and husband.

Sid is also survived by his wife of more than 70 years, Gloria, and two grandsons, Avery and Oliver.

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