Variety reports that Jack Sheldon, a master trumpeter, music director, and vocalist on some classic Schoolhouse Rock! segments, has died. He was 88.
Sheldon was an early purveyor of the West Coast bebop jazz movement, working with everyone from “Stan Kenton and Art Pepper to The Monkees” as a session and side player. He then became music director and sidekick on Merv Griffin’s talk show from 1966 to 1985. He also starred in the 1960s series Run, Buddy, Run and appeared in many episodes of Dragnet. But Sheldon’s greatest small screen fame undoubtedly came as a singer on the educational Schoolhouse Rock! series, where he voiced the titular piece of paper on “I’m Just A Bill” and the conductor on “Conjunction Junction.” (He also spoofed his “bill” appearance on The Simpsons and Family Guy.)
Sheldon’s notable appearances on film soundtracks include performing “The Shadow Of Your Smile” for the 1965 Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton film The Sandpiper; the title track of Robert Altman’s 1973 take on Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye; and his trumpet is featured throughout the 1982 Francis Ford Coppola film, One From The Heart.) He also appeared onscreen in jazz-related movies like For The Boys and The Radioland Murders. He’s the subject of the 2008 documentary, Trying To Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey Of Jack Sheldon, which highlighted the emotional musicality of his trumpet playing, as well as his ribald comic stage presence that helped to make him a legend in the jazz world.