John Cacavas, Composer for 'Kojak' and 'Hawaii Five-O,' Dead at 83

John Cacavas

Film and TV composer John Cacavas, whose scores include the television series "Kojak" and "Hawaii Five-O," died Jan. 28 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 83. 

A member of ASCAP’s Board of Directors from 1993 to 2001, Cacavas began writing for television and then films such as “Airport 1975” and “Airport ’77.” His friendship with Telly Savalas led to him scoring all 114 episodes of "Kojak."

Besides being a composer, Cacavas was also a noted arranger and conductor of orchestral music. He served as assistant to composer and conductor Morton Gould in his younger years and more recently was official conductor of the Beverly Hills Pops Orchestra.

As chief arranger for the U.S. Army Band he co-wrote an oratorio with lyricist and future CBS news correspondent Charles Osgood called “The Conversion of Paul” that was broadcast on NBC. A later collaboration with Osgood, the musical score for Sen. Everett M. Dirksen’s spoken word recording, “The Gallant Men,”received a Grammy Award.

After working on “Kojak,” Cacavas became an in-demand composer in television and worked on “Hawaii Five-0,” “Matlock, Mrs. Columbo,” “B.J. and the Bear” and numerous TV movies.

Cacavas, a graduate of Northwestern University, was born in Aberdeen, S.D. on Aug. 13, 1930. He issurvived by his wife, Bonnie; two daughters: Jennifer Cacavas Krutilek and Lisa Stewart; and a son, John Cacavas; as well as three grandchildren.

The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Aberdeen Public School Foundation (1224 South 3rd Street, Aberdeen, S.D. 57401) for the John Cacavas Memorial.