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James Horner, Oscar-Winning ‘Titanic’ Composer, Dead In Plane Crash

James Horner, the award-winning composer behind some of Hollywood’s biggest films, died in a plane crash outside Santa Barbara on Monday, according to multiple reports.

He was 61.

Horner composed the music for more than 100 films, including “Titanic,” “Avatar,” “Field of Dreams,” “Apollo 13,” “Braveheart,” “A Beautiful Mind” and two “Star Trek” movies. His work on “Titanic” earned him two Academy Awards, one for the film’s score and one for its iconic theme song, “My Heart Will Go On,” which was performed by Celine Dion.

Horner, who wrote the music, shared that award with lyricist Will Jennings.

“There’s a magic of cinema in terms of who I can reach and storytelling that writing serious music does not afford,” he said in an interview earlier this year. “I’ve a passion for storytelling. It’s really what I do best and cinema allows me to do that.”

Horner was an avid pilot and was flying alone on Monday morning in his two-seater single-engine S312 Tucano, according to Variety. He crashed north of Santa Barbara, sparking a brushfire that was put out by local fire crews.

The plane was completely destroyed.

Sylvia Patrycja, who The Hollywood Reporter said is Horner’s assistant, did not mention Horner by name but wrote on Facebook “we have lost an amazing person with a huge heart and unbelievable talent.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1953, Horner grew up in London and attended the Royal College of Music, according to his biography on the Pacific Symphony website. He earned degrees in composition from USC and UCLA, and began his scoring career with 1979 film “The Lady In Red,” according to IMDB. He also did the 1978 picture “The Watcher,” but wrote the music for “The Lady in Red” first.

His big break was the 1982 blockbuster “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” When the producers couldn’t afford to hire Jerry Goldsmith, who did the music for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” they hired Horner, who would also score the third film in the franchise, 1984’s “The Search for Spock.”

By “Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country” in 1991, the producers could no longer afford Horner, who had risen to prominence in the industry.

In 1986, he earned his first Academy Award nomination for “Aliens,” which was also his first collaboration with filmmaker James Cameron — but it wasn’t necessarily an auspicious beginning. The film was plagued by delays and six weeks before it opened, Horner still hadn’t even seen the film yet, much less written the music. He also clashed with both Cameron and producer Gale Anne Hurd.

It was a nightmare,” Horner later recalled, saying he didn’t think he’d ever work with Cameron again, and that the feelings were mutual.

“I think we both felt life was too short to have these conflicts,” Horner said. “We sort of parted after that.”

But after the filmmaker heard Horner’s “Braveheart” score, the two teamed up again for “Titanic” in 1997 and “Avatar” in 2009.

“In Titanic, I challenged you to do an emotionally powerful score without violinists, and with the use of haunting vocals and bittersweet Celtic pipes, you reinvented the romantic score,” Cameron said in a 2011 tribute to the composer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Cameron continued:

“Avatar was a very different challenge — to capture the heart and spirit of an alien culture without alienated the audience. By combining the sweep of a classic orchestral score with indigenous instrumentation and vocals, you came up with a unique sound that created both the epic sweep of the film and also childlike sense of wonder of experiencing that fantastic world for the first time… I look forward to our next collaboration and I can’t wait to hear what you come up with next.”

Cameron has been working on multiple “Avatar” sequels, and Horner had said he would continue to work on the films “if I last that long.”

IMDB lists Horner as winning 48 major awards and being nominated for 64 others. Along with his two Oscars for “Titanic” he received eight other Academy Award nominations.

Horner was also nominated for 11 Grammy Awards, winning five, including two for “My Heart Will Go On” and two for “Somewhere Out There” from the 1986 film “An American Tail.”

Many of those who worked with Horner, as well as the many more who have been touched by his music, paid tribute to the composer on Twitter:

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Robert Chartoff, Oscar-Winning Producer Of ‘Rocky,’ ‘Raging Bull’ Dead At 81

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Robert Chartoff, the Oscar-winning movie producer behind the boxing classics “Rocky” and “Raging Bull,” died Wednesday, associates said. He was 81.

Chartoff died at his home in Santa Monica, California, Lynn Hendee, the president of his company, Chartoff Productions. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. Born in Depression-era New York City, Chartoff had been a movie producer for nearly a decade when he found his career-defining hit in 1976’s “Rocky,” the small-budget movie starring and written by Sylvester Stallone that became a blockbuster and won three Academy Awards including best picture.

Chartoff and his partner Irwin Winkler would go on to produce all seven movies in the “Rocky” series, including the forthcoming “Creed,” which is in post-production and due for release later this year.

He kept working into his late 70s and 80s, his recent credits including 2013’s “Ender’s Game” with Harrison Ford and 2014’s “The Gambler” with Mark Wahlberg.

He also produced a different, darker take on boxing in the Martin Scorcese-directed “Raging Bull” in 1980.

His other credits included 1983’s “The Right Stuff,” which won four Oscars, and 1969’s “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” a cult hit starring Jane Fonda.

He had five children with three different wives, and is survived by his current wife jenny Weyman.

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Michael Blake Dead At 69, Oscar-Winning Writer Of ‘Dances With Wolves’

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Michael Blake, the writer whose novel “Dances With Wolves” became a major hit movie and earned him an Academy Award for the screenplay, has died.

Blake, 69, died Saturday in Tucson, Arizona, after a long battle with cancer, his business partner, Daniel Ostroff, said. Blake, who wrote several novels, is best known for “Dances With Wolves,” which he wrote while broke at the urging of his longtime friend, the actor Kevin Costner. The novel was fairly unsuccessful, but it became a film after Costner asked Blake to adapt it into a movie. The book went on to sell 3.5 million copies after the success of the movie.

“Dances With Wolves,” a Civil War epic about Army lieutenant who befriends a Native American tribe, won seven Academy Awards, including one for Blake for best adapted screenplay.

Despite his success, Blake was a humble man who passionately advocated for many causes, including literacy, Native American history and the disappearing of wild horses in the West, said his wife, Marianne Mortensen Blake.

“Well, he was probably one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. He was definitely one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met,” Mortensen Blake said.

The couple met through the actor Viggo Mortensen, a close friend of Blake’s and Mortensen Blake’s cousin. They married in 1993 and have three teenage children, all named after Native Americans that the couple admires. Blake is also survived by his brother, Daniel Webb.

Mortensen Blake described her husband as a loving father who dedicated his life to helping others.

Blake was born in North Carolina and lived with his family in Texas before settling in southern California. He attended the University of New Mexico, but he left before graduating. The university now has an archive of his work at the student newspaper and other writings, Ostroff said.

Ostroff met Blake in 1988 and has worked with him on several occasions. He and Mortensen Blake are now bringing to life the sequel to “Dances With Wolves,” a novel Blake wrote called “The Holy Road.”

“In my experience, great visionary writers like Michael are often ahead of Hollywood and ahead of the audience by a generation. I think the best Michael Blake film adaptations are yet to come,” Ostroff said.

Blake spent several years living out his car and on friends’ couches while he wrote the “Dances With Wolves” novel.

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