Musician and performer Frank DeVol (September 20, 1911 – October 27, 1999) had a long career that included recording, writing, scoring, and arranging music, as well as acting. As a bandleader and arranger, DeVol was one of the busiest working musicians of the 1950s and 1960s, recording many albums of pop standards and salutes to American songwriters. As a composer, he scored more than 50 movies, many of them classics. But it was in his theme music for classic 1960s TV sitcoms Family Affair, The Brady Bunch, and My Three Sons that remains his most recognizable work.
DeVol was born in Moundsville and raised in Canton, Ohio, where his father was the bandleader at the local vaudeville theater. A member of the musicians’ union by age 14, DeVol joined his father’s band at the theater playing violin and piano. By the early 1940s, he was in Los Angeles leading his own band on KHJ in Los Angeles. He went on to become a bandleader and arranger for stars like Rudy Vallee, Dinah Shore, Vic Damone, Doris Day and Tony Bennett. In 1948, Devol’s arrangement of “Nature Boy” for Nat “King” Cole was a No. 1 hit.
He was hired by Columbia Records as an executive where he recorded a number of “mood music” albums under the moniker “Music By DeVol.” In 1954, director Robert Aldrich hired DeVol to compose the music for his film World for Ransom. The score earned DeVol the first of the five Oscar nominations he would receive over the course of his career. Devol’s movie scores include The Dirty Dozen, Flight of the Phoenix, The Longest Yard, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Pillow Talk, and Cat Ballou. He also did occasional acting bits, appearing in movies such as The Parent Trap and shows such as I Dream of Jeannie, Bonanza, Get Smart, and The Jeffersons.
DeVol died in Lafayette, California. He was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
Written by Michael Lipton