The Unbelievable True Story About John Williams' at the 1976 Oscars

It was John Williams' first Oscar for Original Score, and it came just two years after the death of his wife, highlighted in the original series BLOCKBUSTER.


John Williams wins his first Academy Award for Original Dramatic Score for 1975's "Jaws."

He's now known as cinema's most prolific composer, but there was a time when John Williams' career wasn't so certain.


In 1976, just two years after the tragic loss of his wife Barbara, John earned his first Oscar for original score, and launched what would become one of the greatest careers of any person to ever work in Hollywood, as heard in Episode III of the original series Blockbuster, available free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other platforms.


The music for "Jaws" is still iconic, a half century after it frightened audiences and arguably "saved" Steven Spielberg's film (and career). The two-note "danger" theme stands out, but the rest of the score has been praised as one of the most beautiful works in history.


John entered the 1976 Academy Awards as a favorite to win for "Jaws." He had stiff competition from titans of the film music world, including composers Alex North and Jerry Goldsmith.


The presenters of his category fumbled over the names when reading nominees, but didn't hesitate in calling John Williams' name as the winner.


And those reviewing the original video may notice how quickly John made it to the stage. Though not featured in BLOCKBUSTER, John had agreed to conduct the orchestra for the 1976 Oscars, and was seated just below the stage in the orchestra pit when the announcement came.



"It reflected the attitude of a working composer," said series creator Matt Schrader, who opted not to create a scene around this particular moment because it might seem too "unbelievably true" to BLOCKBUSTER listeners.


"This was a moment about celebrating John's accomplishments, even though he was still burying himself in work, following Barbara's death," Schrader said. "We didn't want this scene to become just an interesting fact about him. It was important that we share this moment of his recognition, because it would launch the rest of his career."


John returned home that night to the Southern California home he once shared with Barbara, now home to him and his teenage son Joseph, as told in BLOCKBUSTER Episode III: Another World. Joseph would carry on his father's musical legacy in a different form -- as the lead singer of the international rock band Toto.


John would also write a violin concerto dedicated to Barbara around this time, which became an instrumental album called "Treesong." It is one of his most different-sounding works, but one with deeply emotional meaning.


And John would then immerse himself in another project that would soon come to define his career — George Lucas' "Star Wars."


The creative relationship and long-running friendship between Spielberg, Lucas and Williams is explored in detail in BLOCKBUSTER. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, as well as Spotify and all other podcast platforms.


BLOCKBUSTER has been painstakingly researched, compiled and referenced from thousands of sources, and details many of the events that led to the creation of JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, and STAR WARS — and the very idea of "the blockbuster" film.


It's a story too incredible not to be told, with the richest, most immersive sound design ever created.


Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and enjoy.


This is a sonic experience that invites you into the offices, film sets and homes of the most influential dreamers, rebels and world builders in Hollywood film history. You won't just be listening; you'll feel like you're there.

It's free to listen. But please consider a donation!


We've made the decision to release Blockbuster for free and without ads interrupting the story. But this production did take about $80,000 to produce from start to finish, so if you enjoy the experience, please consider giving $10, and you'll earn some cool bonus perks in the process!


You can subscribe now at Apple Podcasts for weekly episodes, as well as Spotify and all other podcast platforms.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@Blockbuster_Pod), and Instagram @BlockbusterPod, and the show's creator Matt Schrader on Twitter (@mattschrader).

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