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Steve Kaplan

Plane crash takes life of composer STEVE KAPLAN

The SCL was saddened to learn of the recent and sudden death of composer STEVE KAPLAN. Further information about a memorial fund will be forthcoming. The following was from the Los Angeles Times. Copyright 2003 The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times All Rights Reserved Monte Morin, Times Staff Writer Wednesday, December 17, 2003 A pilot who died when his twin-engine Cessna crashed into a Claremont home last weekend was identified Tuesday as STEVE KAPLAN, an award-winning film and television composer whose music was featured on "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune." Kaplan, 45, of Malibu, died Sunday evening while attempting an emergency landing. A 25-year veteran of the music industry, he was on his way to Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga to rehearse with the school's jazz bands for a winter concert. Residents of the home that was struck escaped injury, but the structure was destroyed. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were still looking into the cause of the crash, but said they had found signs of fatigue failure on the plane's right propeller blade. The Los Angeles County coroner has not identified the pilot, but friends and family members confirmed that he was Kaplan. He is believed to have been the only person in the plane. "It's so sad," said Franny Parish, a family friend. "He was a very, very sweet man," Parish said. A native of the Westside, Kaplan began playing piano at age 5 and attended University High School and Cal State Northridge before beginning his career as a studio pianist. Although trained as a classical musician, Kaplan developed an interest in jazz at an early age, his brother said. "He was a prodigy," said Andy Kaplan, an executive at Sony. "He just had the gift, and everybody knew this would be what he'd do." As a young keyboardist, Kaplan worked on feature film and television scores with musicians such as Henry Mancini and Marvin Hamlisch. He later composed themes for game shows and television movies. For the last six years, he had been the composer and musical director for "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!" In the last four years, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) gave Kaplan the award for "most performed television themes." "In those years, he was one of the most busy and active composers in television," said Nancy Knutsen, an ASCAP senior vice president. Kaplan was recording an album with his wife, Shelby Daniel, and a new artist, Jim Harmon, Knutsen said. Kaplan did not have children. In recent years, Kaplan had become interested in flying and owned several planes. But music remained his passion, his brother said. "That was his life. I know it sounds cliche, but it's the truth," he said. Kaplan was due at Cable Airport in Upland when his plane crashed at 5:30 p.m. He was scheduled to be the guest conductor and piano soloist during the school's concert Monday. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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