Ben Lanzarone Obituary and Cause of Death

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Written By Drew Gomez






en Lanzarone was a composer, arranger, musical director, and pianist who wrote music for numerous hit television shows, including “The Love Boat”, “Happy Days”, and “Dynasty”. He died of lung cancer on February 16, 2024, in his Los Angeles home. He was 85 years old.

Early Life and Career

Ben Lanzarone was born on October 28, 1938, in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from the High School of Music and Art and earned a double master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. He began as a classical pianist, traveling the country as a soloist with the Longines Symphonette and making his solo debut at Carnegie Recital Hall.

He moved into the world of popular music when he started working with Bob Crewe and Charles Fox. Their collaboration resulted in Lanzarone’s album, “In Classic Form”, showcasing his talent as both a classical and jazz pianist. He went on to arrange music for many Crewe productions, including recordings for Bobby Darin, Vikki Carr, and The Bob Crewe Generation. He also arranged music for other artists such as Peter Nero, Vicki Sue Robinson, and the disco group The Brothers.

He also arranged and composed jingles for more than 1,000 commercials, records, and soundtracks. He worked on the soundtrack of the movie “Grease” and was elected to the NARAS Board of Governors.

Television and Broadway

Lanzarone won the prestigious ASCAP “Most Performed Composer” award in 1986 for his work composing television scores. He wrote music for countless episodes of television, from “The Tracy Ullman Show”, “The Jay Leno Comedy Hour” and “Mr. Belvedere”, to “Dynasty” (including the legendary catfight episode with Alexis and Crystal Carrington), “The Love Boat”, “Vegas”, “Matt Houston”, “The Colbys”, “Hotel”, “Happy Days” (including the episode where Fonzie jumped the shark), “Laverne and Shirley” and “Mork and Mindy”.

On Broadway, he was the musical director of the original production of “Grease”, and the arranger for the productions of “Via Galactica” and “Truckload”. He was also the musical director/arranger for Off-Broadway’s “How to Steal an Election” and the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Personal Life and Family

Lanzarone was married for 46 years to actress and singer Ilene Graff, who starred in “Mr. Belvedere” and “Promises, Promises”. They enjoyed a personal and professional relationship that spanned stage, screen, live concerts, and recordings, including a Grammy nomination for their album “Baby’s Broadway Lullabies”. They also taught a workshop called “Making the Song Your Own”.

They had a daughter, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, who is also a Broadway veteran. She paid tribute to her father on Instagram, writing: “My dad was the most brilliant musician I’ve ever known. He taught me everything I know about music, about how to listen, about how to make it, about how to love it. He was my best friend, my partner in crime, my hero, my idol. I will miss him every day for the rest of my life”.


Ben Lanzarone was a talented and versatile musician who left a lasting legacy in the fields of television, Broadway, and popular music. He died of lung cancer at the age of 85, leaving behind his wife, daughter, and many fans and admirers. He will be remembered for his music, his humor, his generosity, and his love.

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