Jack Sheldon, a veteran jazz musician in Hollywood and one of the most recognizable voices from Schoolhouse Rock! during its run in the 1970s, has died this week at the age of 88.
Sheldon was a veteran jazz musician who also served as musical director of The Merv Griffin Show for close to two decades, but perhaps his most memorable work came as the voice of popular Schoolhouse Rock! songs like “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill.” His death was reported late on Tuesday by Consequence of Sound, which noted that he had passed away of undisclosed causes on December 27. Sheldon’s death was announced by Doug McIntyre, his biographer.
Born in 1931, Sheldon picked up the trumpet at age 12 and found a love for jazz music. He released 27 albums during his life and collaborated with a number of other musicians, including Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, and Tom Waits. He was considered a pioneer of the West Coast jazz movement in the 1950s, and later made his mark on Hollywood through a series of television projects. Aside from his work on The Merv Griffin Show, Sheldon also did some acting, including an appearance in the CBS sitcom Run, Buddy, Run in the 1960s.
He would go on to make a number of other appearances, including movies For The Boys and Freaky Friday, as well as many guest appearances in shows ranging from Gilligan’s Island to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sheldon’s music would also become a backdrop for Hollywood, appearing in projects and influencing many of the artists who came out of the West Coast.
Sheldon’s work on Schoolhouse Rock! would find new life in the decades after the show went off the air, including a revival album of the educational program in the 1990s and appearances on Johnny Bravo, Family Guy, and The Simpsons to reprieve the work, Deadline noted.
As the Deadline report added, Sheldon himself became the subject of an award-winning documentary that featured some of the big-name stars he made a mark on during his time in Hollywood.
“Sheldon’s musical gifts and talent for trouble were also the subject of a documentary called Trying to Get Good, which includes footage of Clint Eastwood, Billy Crystal, and Griffin singing the jazzman’s praises,” the report noted. “The film won best documentary honors at the 2008 Newport Beach Film Festival.”
It was not clear what plans Sheldon’s family have for his burial. Many who knew the jazz musician have shared memories on social media.