Basil Poledouris

Basil Konstantine Poledouris (/ˈpɒlɪdʊərɪs/; August 21, 1945 – November 8, 2006) was a Greek-American composer, conductor, and orchestrator of film and television scores,[1] best known for his long-running collaborations with directors John Milius and Paul Verhoeven. Among his works are scores for the films Conan the Barbarian (1982), Red Dawn (1984), Iron Eagle (1986), RoboCop (1987), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Free Willy (1993), and Starship Troopers (1997). Poledouris won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special for his work on the four-part miniseries Lonesome Dove in 1989, and was a four-time recipient of the BMI Film Music Award.

Basil Poledouris
Background information
Birth nameBasil Konstantine Poledouris
Born(1945-08-21)August 21, 1945
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
DiedNovember 8, 2006(2006-11-08) (aged 61)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresFilm score
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor
InstrumentsPiano, orchestra, synthesizer
Years active1970–2006

Life and career

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, he credited two influences with guiding him towards music: the first was composer Miklós Rózsa; the second his own Greek Orthodox heritage. Poledouris was raised in the Church, and he used to sit in services enthralled by the choir's sound.[2] At the age of seven, Poledouris began piano lessons, and after graduation from Garden Grove High School, he enrolled at the University of Southern California to study both filmmaking and music. Several short films to which he contributed are still kept in the university's archives. At USC, Poledouris met movie directors John Milius and Randal Kleiser, with whom he would later collaborate as a music composer. He appeared as a background extra in several episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series.[3] In 1985, Poledouris wrote the music for Paul Verhoeven's Flesh & Blood, establishing a durable collaboration.

Poledouris became renowned for his powerfully epic style of orchestral composition and his intricate thematic designs. He scored the soundtrack for The Blue Lagoon (1980; dir: Kleiser); Conan the Barbarian (1982; dir: Milius); Conan the Destroyer (1984); Red Dawn (1984; dir: Milius), Iron Eagle (1986); RoboCop (1987; dir: Verhoeven); The Hunt for Red October (1990); Quigley Down Under (1990 Simon Wincer); Free Willy (1993) and its first sequel Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995); Starship Troopers (1997; dir: Verhoeven); and For Love of the Game (1999).

Poledouris' studio, "Blowtorch Flats", was located in Venice, California, and was a professional mixing facility specializing in film and media production.

Poledouris married his wife Bobbie in 1969; they had two daughters, Zoë and Alexis. His elder daughter, Zoë Poledouris, is an actress and film composer, who occasionally collaborated with her father in composing film soundtracks.

In 1996, Poledouris, alongside James Horner, composed "The Tradition of the Games"[4] for the Atlanta Olympics opening ceremony that accompanied the memorable dance tribute[5] to the athletes and goddesses of victory of the ancient Greek Olympics using silhouette imagery.[6]

Poledouris spent the last four years of his life residing on Vashon Island, in Washington State. He died on November 8, 2006, in Los Angeles, California, aged 61, from cancer.[7]

Awards & nominations

  • Winner Best Score for Miniseries – Emmy Awards (Lonesome Dove)
  • Nominee Best Score – Saturn Awards (Conan the Barbarian)
  • Winner Special Recognition Music Award – BMI Film & TV Awards (Olympic Tribute for "The Tradition of the Games")
  • Winner Film Music Award – BMI Awards (Free Willy)
  • Winner Film Music Award – BMI Awards (The Hunt for Red October)
  • Winner TV Music Award – BMI Awards (Lonesome Dove)
  • Winner Film Music Award – BMI Awards (RoboCop)



Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
1970 The Reversal of Richard Sun John Milius USC School of Cinematic Arts Student film
1973 Hollywood 90028Christina Hornisher Parker National Distribution
Extreme Close-UpJeannot Szwarc General Cinema Corporation
1977TintoreraRené Cardona Jr.Hemdale Film Corporation
United Film Distribution
1978Big WednesdayJohn MiliusWarner Bros.
1980The Blue LagoonRandal KleiserColumbia Pictures
1982Conan the BarbarianJohn MiliusDe Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Universal Pictures (North America)
20th Century Fox (International)
Saturn Award for Best Music
Summer LoversRandal KleiserFilmways Pictures
1984 Making the GradeDorian WalkerCannon Films
Conan the DestroyerRichard FleischerDe Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Universal Pictures
Red DawnJohn MiliusUnited Artists
ProtocolHerbert RossWarner Bros.
1985Flesh & BloodPaul VerhoevenOrion Pictures
1986Iron EagleSidney J. FurieTriStar Pictures
1987RoboCopPaul VerhoevenOrion Pictures Won:
BMI Film Music Award
No Man's LandPeter Werner
1988Cherry 2000Steve De Jarnatt
SpellbinderJanet GreekMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Split DecisionsDavid DruryNew Century Entertainment
1989 WiredLarry PeerceTaurus Entertainment
Farewell to the KingJohn MiliusOrion Pictures
1990The Hunt for Red OctoberJohn McTiernanParamount Pictures Won:
BMI Film Music Award
Quigley Down UnderSimon WincerPathé
1991Flight of the IntruderJohn MiliusParamount Pictures
White FangRandal KleiserWalt Disney Pictureswith Hans Zimmer
Return to the Blue LagoonWilliam A. GrahamColumbia Pictures
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro ManSimon WincerMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
1992Falling from GraceJohn MellencampColumbia Pictures
WindCarroll BallardTriStar Pictures
1993Hot Shots! Part DeuxJim Abrahams20th Century Fox
Free WillySimon WincerLe Studio Canal+
Regency Enterprises
Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
BMI Film Music Award
RoboCop 3Fred DekkerOrion Pictures
1994On Deadly GroundSteven SeagalWarner Bros.
Serial MomJohn WatersSavoy Pictures
LassieDaniel PetrieWestern Publishing
Paramount Pictures
Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle BookStephen SommersWalt Disney Pictures
1995Under Siege 2: Dark TerritoryGeoff MurphyRegency Enterprises
Warner Bros.
Free Willy 2: The Adventure HomeDwight H. LittleLe Studio Canal+
Regency Enterprises
Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
1996It's My PartyRandal KleiserUnited Artists
Celtic PrideTom DeCerchioCaravan Pictures
Hollywood Pictures
AmandaBobby Roth
The War at HomeEmilio EstevezTouchstone Pictures
1997 BreakdownJonathan MostowDino De Laurentiis Company
Paramount Pictures
SwitchbackJeb StuartRysher Entertainment
Paramount Pictures
Starship TroopersPaul VerhoevenTriStar Pictures (North America)
Touchstone Pictures (International)
1998 Les MisérablesBille AugustMandalay Entertainment
Amblin Entertainment
Parkes/MacDonald Productions
Columbia Pictures
1999LifeTed DemmeImagine Entertainment
Universal Pictures
with R. Kelly and Wyclef Jean
Mickey Blue EyesKelly MakinCastle Rock Entertainment
Warner Bros. (US)
Universal Pictures (UK)
KimberlyFrederic GolchanCinerenta Medienbeteiligungs KG
Ardustry Home Entertainment
For Love of the GameSam RaimiRenaissance Pictures
Beacon Pictures
Tig Productions
Universal Pictures
2000Cecil B. DementedJohn WatersLe Studio Canal+
Artisan Entertainment
Chasing SleepMichael WalkerCanal+
Lions Gate Films
2001Crocodile Dundee in Los AngelesSimon WincerParamount Pictures
2002The TouchPeter PauMiramax Films


Year Title Network(s) Notes
1971 Congratulations, It's a Boy! ABC Television film
1981 A Whale for the Killing
Fire on the Mountain NBC
1984 Amazons ABC
Single Bars, Single Women
1985 Alfred Hitchcock Presents NBC Pilot episode
Misfits of Science 2 episodes
1985-86 The Twilight Zone CBS 3 episodes
1987 Prison for Children Television film
Amerika ABC Miniseries;
7 episodes
1988 Intrigue CBS Television film
1989 Lonesome Dove Miniseries;
4 episodes

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition
for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special

1989-90 Nasty Boys NBC 13 episodes
1992 Ned Blessing: The True Story of My Life CBS Television film
2000 If These Walls Could Talk 2 HBO
2001 Love and Treason CBS
2003 The Legend of Butch & Sundance NBC

Other works


  1. Nelson, Valerie J. (2006-11-10). "Basil Poledouris, 61; film composer known for his bold sounds". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  2. Rhodes, S. Mark. "A Sprig of Basil: The Musical Mastery of Basil Poledouris Archived October 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine." Film Score Monthly, Volume 9, Number 4, 2004.
  3. "Basil Poledouris". Memory Alpha. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  4. Basil Poledouris. "1996 Olympics Opening Ceremony – Honor and Glory CD Audio". Basil Poledouris website. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  5. "Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games opening ceremony via Youtube (video)". CBC TV via YouTube. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  6. "Basil Poledouris Biography". Basil Poledouris website. Archived from the original on 20 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  7. "Basil Poledouris 1945 – 2006." Basil Poledouris Message Board, 8 November 2006.
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