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Shirley Walker
Born April 10, 1945(1945-04-10)
Origin Napa, California, United States
Died November 30, 2006 (aged 61)
Genres Film scores: Action, Horror, Thriller, Drama, Science fiction[1]
Occupations Composer, conductor, orchestrator, music arranger[2]

Shirley Walker (April 10, 1945 - November 30, 2006) was an American television and film composer and conductor. She was one of the few female film score composers working in Hollywood. Walker was the first female composer to earn a solo score credit on a major Hollywood motion picture and according to the Los Angeles Times, will be remembered as a pioneer for women in the film industry.[1][3]



Shirley Walker was born in Napa, California on April 10, 1945. Walker was a piano soloist with the San Francisco Symphony during high school, and later attended San Francisco State University on a piano scholarship.[4] She studied music composition under Roger Nixon and piano studies with Harald Logan of Berkeley, California.[5] For several years, she wrote jingles and composed for industrial films.

Walker's career in film began in 1979, when she was hired to play the synthesizers on Carmine Coppola's score for Apocalypse Now.[6] In 1992, Walker became the first female composer to earn a solo score credit on a major Hollywood motion picture - for John Carpenter's Memoirs of an Invisible Man.[1][3] Shirley Walker served as composer for numerous productions, including films such as Willard, the Final Destination trilogy of movies, and television series such as Falcon Crest, Space: Above and Beyond, China Beach, and The Flash.[2] The Flash was one of many collaborations Walker did with composer Danny Elfman. She was his conductor on projects such as Scrooged and Batman.[7]

She had served as a Board Member (1986-1994) and Vice President (1988-1992) for The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL), often speaking out on behalf of composers and their working conditions.[8] Articles and interviews are written by and about Shirley Walker in the SCL's publication, THE SCORE, a publication in print since 1986 by and about professional film/television/video game composers, songwriters and lyricists—and where Shirley spoke her mind.

Her association with DC Comics extended to television where she served as composer for Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995), Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000), The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999), and Batman Beyond (1999-2000); setting a standard for the musical tone of the DC Animated Universe.[7] Series fans and film score enthusiasts alike praise her animation work for its classical reliance on theme.[5] Despite the fact that very few female composers exist, Shirley Walker was not recognized during the "In Memoriam" segment of the 79th Academy Awards.[9]



Shirley Walker died on November 30, 2006 at Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, due to complications from a stroke that she had experienced two weeks before.[6] She died only eight months after the death of her husband, Don.[4] At the time of her death, Walker had scored more major-studio motion pictures than any other American woman.[6] A memorial service was held at the Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage, and a plaque was placed in her honor.[10] She is survived by her two sons, Colin Walker and Ian Walker.


In 1996, Shirley Walker won her first Daytime Emmy Award as music director for Batman: The Animated Series.[6] She won another Daytime Emmy in music-composition for Batman Beyond in 2001.

Notable film scores


  • She wrote her film scores entirely by hand.[11]
  • She always orchestrated and conducted her own scores by herself.
  • Walker worked with Danny Elfman on many DC Comics works. She served as conductor for the film Batman, wrote most of the scores for Batman: The Animated Series using a theme inspired by Elfman's, scored the pilot and all the episodes of The Flash (the main theme was written by Elfman) and scored episodes of Batman Beyond with Michael McCuiston, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter.


  1. ^ a b c Southern, Nathan. "Biography: Shirley Walker". allmovie. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  2. ^ a b "Shirley Walker Credits". Variety. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  3. ^ a b UPI staff writer (2006-12-26). "Film composer Shirley Walker dies at 61". United Press International. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  4. ^ a b Nelson, Valerie J. (2006-12-26). "OBITUARIES; Shirley Walker, 61; won Emmys for film scores". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  5. ^ a b Doyle, Jim. "Shirley Walker -- film score composer". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  6. ^ a b c d Burlingame, Jon (2006-12-04). "Composer Walker dies". Variety. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  7. ^ a b Ball, Ryan (2006-12-01). "Cartoon Composer Shirley Walker Dies". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 2008-09-13.  
  8. ^ "In Memoriam: Shirley Walker". The Society of Composers & Lyricists. Retrieved 2008-09-13.  
  9. ^ Goldwasser, Dan. "Shirley Walker to be overlooked at the Oscars". SoundtrackNet. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  10. ^ Burlingame, Jon (2007-03-14). "Shirley Walker Memorial". The Film Music Society. Retrieved 2008-09-12.  
  11. ^ Goldwasser, Dan (2006-01-05). "Shirley Walker's Final Destination 3 kicks off 2006 with a scream". Retrieved 2008-09-13.  

External links


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