Earle Hagen was a talented Hollywood composer and musician who wrote some of the most famous theme songs in television history. Hagen's memorably melodic riffs in a variety of musical genres graced the score of dozens of television shows from 1953 to 1986, including “Make Room for Daddy,” “The Mod Squad,” “Eight Is Enough” and “The Dukes of Hazzard. Of course most remember him as the creator of possibly the most idly hummed melody of all time - the folksy, countrified whistle that opened “The Andy Griffith Show,” accompanying Sheriff Andy Taylor (Mr. Griffith) and his young son, Opie (Ron Howard), down a dirt road toward a fishing hole. And not only did he score the opening theme song, he also did the whistling himself. He also wrote the swing-like anthem for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” accompanying Mr. Van Dyke’s entry into his suburban home and his tumble over an ottoman. (In later seasons, Mr. Van Dyke would sidestep the ottoman to the same playful musical phrase.) He wrote the cool, cosmopolitan and suggestively exotic theme for the espionage drama “I Spy.” He wrote the cheerily mock-military anthem for the bumpkin-in-the-marines comedy “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C,” starring Jim Nabors. And he wrote the perky pop theme for the Marlo Thomas vehicle “That Girl.”
Earle Hagen was such an avid golfer that in his twilight years he often accepted a package of golf balls in lieu of payment from students he taught.