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Whistling Earle Hagen Dies at 88

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Whistling Earle Hagen Dies at 88

Whistling Earle Hagen Dies at 88

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

The man who wrote and whistled that tune, it's the theme to the "Andy Griffith Show," is dead. He's composer Earle Hagen, he died Monday, at 88 years old.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Earle Hagen wrote themes for some of the biggest hits of the 50's, 60's and 70's, including the shows "I Spy," "The Mob Squad," and "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

(Soundbite of theme music "The Dick Van Dyke Show")

CHADWICK: He worked on more than 3,000 television episodes, he wrote three books about scoring music and he penned an autobiography called "Memoirs of a Famous Composer Nobody Ever Heard Of."

BRAND: Earle Hagen was a master at creating a catchy theme that would immediately identify a television show. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, he explained that he originally whistled the "Andy Griffith" theme as a demo for producers.

Mr. EARLE HAGEN (Composer): Well, I never whistled before in my life and never since.

CHADWICK: But they loved it and it became a critical part of the success of the "Andy Griffith Show."

Mr. HAGEN: Andy can't go anywhere without somebody starting to whistle that theme.

BRAND: Composer and whistler, Earle Hagen, died on Monday. He was 88 years old. Day to Day is a production of NPR News, with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand.

CHADWICK: And I'm Alex Chadwick.

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