Richard DeBenedictis ’58


Richard DeBenedictis ’58

When Richard DeBenedictis ’58 was director and producer of the student-led Scampers variety show at IC, his classmates may not have imagined that one day he would become a successful composer, arranger, pianist, and musical director on Broadway and in TV and film.

His big break came when he was hired as the pianist at Roseland Dance City with Jimmy “Dancing Shoes” Palmer. They toured, and, while he was at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, drummer and composer Gene Krupa heard DeBenedictis perform and offered him a chance to play piano on the jazz circuit.

After a brief USO tour, DeBenedictis played with the Sammy Kay Orchestra and, when he was tired of traveling, he took a position as the house pianist at the Bon Soir jazz club in Greenwich Village. From there he made his way to Broadway, where he produced dance music for Carol Burnett’s Bonjour and Fade Out–Fade In.

While working on the East Coast, DeBenedictis wrote music for some big names including Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli. Then he moved his family to Los Angeles to pursue work at Universal Studios and began writing scores for television series, including Perry Mason, Columbo, Hawaii Five-O, and Matlock. In total, he estimates that he has written somewhere between 200 to 300 scores for various television shows and movies.

A music major, DeBenedictis came to speak to students in 2012 as part of the Enduring Masters series, funded in part by the generous support of Jay ’72 and Judi Linden ’73