Jack Sheldon, the iconic voice behind many “Schoolhouse Rock!” episodes, including “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill,” is dead at 88.
The prolific musician and singer died Dec. 27 of undisclosed causes, according to a Facebook post by Sheldon’s biographer Doug McIntryre.
He had also served as music director and sidekick on Merv Griffin’s long-running talk show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Sheldon played the trumpet on the 1965 Academy Award-winning Best Song “The Shadow of Your Smile” from the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton drama “The Sandpiper,” beating the likes of Burt Bacharach’s “What’s New Pussycat?” and “The Ballad of Cat Ballou.”
Griffin’s favorite song was “The Shadow of Your Smile,” which Sheldon performed at his 2007 funeral.
Music moved Sheldon, especially uptempo compositions.
“I like the music to swing,” he said in a 1987 interview. “And I like to make people feel it, feel happy and sad, everything. If the music makes me smile and happy, then maybe the people will feel it, too.”
But Sheldon was also a prominent actor, appearing as a jazz musician in “The Cara Williams Show” which ran for the 1964-65 season, and portrayed John Davidson’s brother in the short-lived Sally Field NBC sitcom “The Girl with Something Extra.”
“Schoolhouse Rock” was a series of animated educational shorts that ran during ABC’s Saturday morning lineup from 1973-84. It was revived from 1994-96, and again in 2009.
Sheldon lent his voice to “Schoolhouse Rock” parodies in “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”
He also voiced Louie the Lightning Bug in a series of cartoon public service announcements and performed the theme song to the Kyle Chandler drama series “Homefront.”
Sheldon was the subject of the award-winning documentary “Trying to Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon,” which chronicled his battles with substance abuse and alcohol.
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