Thursday, September 2, 2010

RIP Bernard Mayers

MAYERS, Bernard Leon

Eminent saxophone and clarinet player, arranger and orchestrator, died of natural causes on August 17th at the age of 102 years old, in Marina del Rey, CA. Bernie Mayers, who is best known for his work on a string of hit movies for 20th Century Fox in the 1950s and 60s was born in Lakewood, New Jersey on January 6, 1908. His musical career started during high school at the urging of the local band instructor who recognized Bernie's excellent ear for the tunes of the day. Bernie went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania and the famed Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia before playing saxophone with many of the New York big bands including those of The Dorsey Brothers, Benny Goodman, Eddie Duchin, Fletcher Henderson and Paul Whiteman in the 1930s. By the mid 1930s, his career focus changed, and Bernie was hired as an orchestrator for the Lucky Strike Hit Parade on NBC radio, under the baton and musical direction of Lenny Hayton. In the 1940s, he joined the migration of talent from New York to California, from radio to movies. Over the next two decades, Bernie arranged and orchestrated the music for close to 70 movies, including "The King and I," "South Pacific," "Carousel," "How to Marry a Millionaire," and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." Bernie served in the Navy band during World War II. Upon his return, he and his first wife, actress Helen Spachner, divorced. In 1965, following the death of his second wife, Lois Adler Feingold Mayers, he retired to pursue his life-long dream of fishing the great waters of the world. He moored his dramatic orange boat, the C Major 7th in Marina del Rey where he was member of the Del Rey Yacht Club for over 40 years. He was a founder of the Los Angeles Rod & Reel Club. He was preceded in death by his parents, Freda Gerber Mayers and Louis Mayers, his sister, Leah Mayers, and brother, David Lippman Mayers and stepson, Richard Fields. Bernie is survived by his nieces, Barbara Ann Mayers Keller of Leisure Village in Manchester, N.J. and Elaine Mayers Salkaln of Northport, NY, three grandnephews, Dr. David L. Keller of Torrance CA, Donathan D. Salkaln, of NYC, NY, James K. Salkaln of St-Prix, France, and James's two children, Candice and Olivier, three stepchildren, Fred Fields of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Ray Fields of McMinnville, OR and Judy Lichtenstein of Englewood, CO, eight step grandchildren, 12 step great-grandchildren and his dear friends, Jon and Linda Fenley. Contributions may be made in Bernie Mayers' name to The Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.

MAYERS, Bernard Leon
Born: 1/6/1908, Lakewood, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 8/17/2010, Marina Del Rey, California, U.S.A.

Bernard Mayers' westerns - orchestrator:
The Secret of Convict Lake - 1951
The Outcasts of Poker Flats - 1952
Way of the Gaucho - 1952
City of Bad Men - 1953
Siege at Red River - 1954
The Last Wagon - 1956
The Proud Rebel - 1958
The Big Country - 1958
North to Alaska - 1960


  1. Thank you for publishing this celebration of our Uncle Bernie. Modest about his glorious achievements in music, he was a man who was loving and generous to a fault, whose zest for life and secrets for attaining longevity were nothing short of miraculous and inspirational. He read the NewYorker magazine from cover to cover from day one in the 20's, and up until he was 99, he drove his own car, and cooked up his own famous "Slum Gullion' soup in his blender.
    Barbara Mayers Keller and Elaine Mayers Salkaln.

  2. Like his career he seemed to get better with age. RIP.

  3. Bernard Mayers was actually born January 6, 1908 not January 16th.

  4. Thanks for publishing this! Please correct the birthdate. It's 1/6 not 1/16.