Whistling Earle Hagen Dies at 88 A prolific composer of TV and movie music, he was best known for the infectious whistle that marks the beginning of the Andy Griffith Show.

Whistling Earle Hagen Dies at 88

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/90889554/90889792" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


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.


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."


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.

EARLE HAGEN: 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."

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.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.