Paul Smith (composer)

Paul J. Smith (October 30, 1906 – January 25, 1985) was an American music composer best known for his work at Disney. [1]

Paul Smith
Paul J. Smith

(1906-10-30)October 30, 1906
DiedJanuary 25, 1985(1985-01-25) (aged 78)
OccupationAmerican film composer
Years active1936–1985

Life and career

Smith was born in Calumet, Michigan on October 30, 1906. Upon graduating high school, he studied music at The College of Idaho from 1923 to 1925 before he was accepted into the Bush Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Illinois. His abilities in theory and composition earned him a scholarship to study music theory at Juilliard, however, it is unclear if he ever pursued this invitation.[2]

Smith spent much of his life working at Disney as composer for many of its films' scores, animated and live-action alike, movie and television alike; from 1962 to 1963, he also composed music for Leave It to Beaver and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," along with Leigh Harline and Frank Churchill. In Fantasia, he is one of the studio employees in the orchestra. He also composed the scores for several of the True-Life Adventures episodes.[3]

In 1940, Smith reteamed with Harline, along with Oliver Wallace (as the uncredited conductor and orchestrator) to compose the musical score of "Pinocchio." Smith reteamed with Wallace again to compose the score for Disney's Cinderella in 1950, which was his final Disney animated film he wrote the score before compsosing live action films and shorts for Disney.

Two of Smith's main collaborators were Hazel "Gil" George, who wrote the song title for The Light in the Forest with him and Lawrence Edward Watkin, and George Bruns, who worked with him on films like Westward Ho the Wagons! after he was first hired by Walt in 1953 to compose and adapt the score from Tchaikovsky's ballet of the same name in the 1959 film version. Smith also did the stock music for the Blondie series of the late 1940s and early 1950s. He also won an Academy Award for Best Original Score with Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Pinocchio.


Smith died on January 25, 1985 in Glendale, California, from Alzheimer's Disease at age 78. In 1994, he was posthumously honored as a Disney Legend.

Animation scores

Live-action theatrical film scores


  1. Disney's Complete "Silly Symphony" Soundtrack Collection-Cartoon Research
  2. The College of Idaho Department of Music. A Tribute to Professors: Beale, Smith, Skyrm, Davidson, Cerveny, and Gabbard. The College of Idaho. pp. 5–7.
  3. Macdonald, Scott (Spring 2006). "Up Close and Political : The Short Ruminations on Ideology in the Nature Film". Film Quarterly. 3 (59).
  4. When Cinderella Played "Snow White" on Records-Cartoon Research
  5. Paul Joseph Smith, Composer Of Scores for Disney Movies-NY Times
  6. The Cartoon Music Book-Google Books (pg.33)
  7. The Cartoon Music-Google Books (pg. 35)
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