Norman Spencer (composer)

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Norman Spencer Matthews (3 March 1891– 15 February 1940), [1] known professionally as Norman Spencer, was an American musician and songwriter. He is best known for having served as musical director/composer for Warner Brothers' /Leon Schlesinger's Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon shorts from 1933 to 1936.



Spencer was born in Minneapolis. By 1911 he was living in California working as a pianist. Beginning in 1919 he was credited as a songwriter for many songs as well as writing scores for musical stage shows.

Spencer served as composer and director of music for Leon Schlesinger Productions from 1933 to 1936, along with fellow composer Bernard Brown, creating film scores for animated short films in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series produced by Leon Schlesinger. His son Norman, Jr. reportedly handled the musical arrangements for both series. [1]

According to an article for The Film Daily published on April 29, 1936, Spencer had just completed a three-year contract for the studio and signed a new three-year contract. However, an article published on August 3 of the same year reported that Spencer had resigned and that Carl Stalling was succeeding him as the studio's music director. [1] According to the article, Schlesinger had already signed a new contract with Spencer, only to hire his replacement a few months later, following Brown's departure to head the sound department for Universal Studios. The reasons for Spencer's resignation are unknown. [1]

According to a story told by voice actor Mel Blanc during a 1988 interview, Spencer was also the person responsible for hiring voice actors for the studio. Blanc repeatedly requested an audition from the Schlesinger studio, but Spencer kept telling him that the studio had no need for new voice actors. One day in 1936, Blanc returned with another request for an audition and found Spencer missing, as he had fallen ill and Treg Brown (who later replaced Spencer as sound editor) was filling in. At this point, Brown finally gave Blanc his long-awaited audition, and subsequently hired him. [2]


Clifford McCarty lists the following credits for Norman Spencer: [3]


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  1. 1 2 3 4 Tralfaz: Cartoons and Tralfazian Stuff (September 5, 2012). "The Search For Norman Spencer". Blogger. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  2. Sigall (2005), pp. 84–86
  3. McCarty (2000), p. 299, "Spencer, Norman"