Shirley Walker (1945-2006) - film and television composer

Shirley Walker - Batman: Mask of the Phantasm soundtrack CD cover Shirley Walker was born in California where her musical education was assisted by a piano scolarship, and followed by further study in both Piano and Composition. She performed at various gigs around the San Francisco area as a soloist or with jazz bands. She played piano with orchestras in the area, before gravitating towards film work. Her apprenticeship in film music included working as orchestrator and conductor, working with a substantial list of established film composers such as Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Brad Fiedel, Mark Snow and Carter Burwell. This led to occasional billing as co-composer before achieving full billing as composer starting with "Memoirs of an Invisible Man". This was directed but not written by John Carpenter, and therefore not a typical Carpenter film. However with this score Walker made history as the first orchestral score to be written solely by a woman for a major studio movie. Walker was to work again with Carpenter on "Escape from L.A." with a co-composer credit, and indeed she found work on a number of films through the 90s until beyond.

Throughout this period, Walker was also providing music for a large number of television productions including episodes of "Cagney and Lacey", "Falcon Crest" and "Knott's Landing". It is within television that some of her most memorable music is associated, particular on genre shows such as "Flash" and "The Others" and particularly the animated superhero series for Batman and Superman. For the series based on that former superhero, Walker had conducted the orchestra and provided some orchestrations for Elfman's original "Batman". It was in part through this prior experience and with Danny Elfman's support, that she landed the Batman animated series, and then incorporated his theme from the original movie. These animated series then served as a platform for other composers such as Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis.

Sadly Shirley Walker died of a brain aneurism on November 29th 2006. The latest film in the Final Destination series called "The Final Destination" has been scored by Brian Tyler.

Film music by Shirley Walker:

    Shirley Walker and John Carpenter - Escape from L.A. soundtrack CD cover
  • Swordkill - with Richard Band
  • Ghoulies - with Richard Band
  • Dungeon Master - with Richard Band
  • Chicago Joe and the Showgirl - conductor & orchestrator for Hans Zimmer
  • Bird on a Wire - conductor & orchestrator for Hans Zimmer
  • Batman - conductor, orchestrator and co-composer for Danny Elfman
  • Nightbreed - co-composer on this Danny Elfman score
  • White Fang - additional music along with Hans Zimmer on this Basil Poledouris score
  • Memoirs of an Invisible Man - sole composer on this first feature
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - the feature length animated movie
  • Turbulence - features a Herrmannesque version of Carol of the Bells
  • Escape from L.A. - with director (and frequent composer) John Carpenter
  • Mystery Men - additional music for a score by Stephen Warbeck
  • Willard
  • Final Destination 1, 2 and 3 - the music plays it staight like the cast, which highlights the preposterous comic aspects of the on-screen horror

TV Music by Shirley Walker:

    Shirley Walker - Memoirs of an Invisible Man soundtrack CD cover
  • Cagney and Lacey - some work on this series
  • Falcon Crest - and also on this series
  • Morning Start - Evening Star - series
  • Knott's Landing - and also on this series
  • China Beach - series
  • Tiny Toons - animated series
  • The Flash - Walker was the main composer for this series, with a theme by Danny Elfman
  • Sexual Advances - TV film
  • Majority Rule - TV film
  • Other Mothers - TV special
  • M.A.N.T.I.S. - one episode of this series
  • It Came from Outer Space 2 - TV movie
  • Space: Above and Beyond - many episodes of this series
  • Superman - animated series
  • Spawn - animated series
  • Batman - animated series with hints of Danny Elfman's film theme
  • New Batman/Superman Adventures
  • Batman Beyond
  • The Others

Shirley Walker - Recommendations:

Although not many of her soundtracks are available on CD, these Shirley Walker soundtracks can be found at the following links:

Shirley Walker - Memorabilia:

Here is the CD cover for Batman The Animated Series, signed by Shirley Walker's co-composers on the series, Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion. Our thanks to Petr Kocanda for permission to use his collection of autographed CDs. Click on the thumbnail below to see the image full size in a separate window.

Shirley Walker, Lolita Ritmanis & Michael McCuistion - Batman: The Animated Series - signed CD