TV/film composer and conductor John Cacavas, whose credits include Airport 1975 and 1970s TV series Kojak, died January 28 at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 83. The South Dakota native scored numerous TV series and films throughout his career beginning with the 1972 feature Horror Express. He went on to score the next two movies in the Airport franchise, Airport 1975 and Airport ’77. Cacavas had developed a strong friendship with Telly Savalas, leading to a long tenure as composer for the Kojak TV series (1973-78), including the series theme for its fifth and final season on CBS. His other TV credits include Hawaii Five-O, Matlock, Switch, Columbo, Mrs. Columbo, Quincy, Buck Rogers, Gangster Chronicles, Lady Blue, Four Seasons and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. He also composed movies-of-the-week, TV pilots, mini-series and specials such as A Time to Triumph, Eddie Capra Mysteries, She Cried Murder, Time Machine, By Reason Of Insanity, Jenny’s War , Police Story, Dirty Dozen II and III, Confessional and Perfect Murder Perfect Town.
Cacavas earned two Emmy nominations for original music for a series, one for a third-season episode of Kojak (“A Question of Answers,” 1975) and one for the Joe Don Baker police series Eischied (“Only the Pretty Girls Die,” part II, 1979). Cacavas also guest conducted for or had his music performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Pops, the Manhattan Pops, the symphonies of Vancouver, Detroit, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Miami.