Academy Award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith (search), who created the memorable music for scores of classic movies and television shows ranging from "Patton" and "Planet of the Apes" (search) to "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," has died. He was 75.

Goldsmith died in his sleep Wednesday night at his Beverly Hills home after a long battle with cancer, said Lois Carruth, his personal assistant.

A classically trained composer and conductor who began musical studies at the age of 6, Goldsmith's Hollywood career spanned nearly half a century.

It included an astonishing number of TV and movie scores that have become virtual classics. From the clarions of "Patton" to the syrupy theme for TV's "The Waltons," Goldsmith sometimes seemed virtually synonymous with soundtracks.

His hundreds of works included scores for "The Blue Max," "L.A. Confidential," (search) "Basic Instinct" and "Chinatown." (search)

He took on action hits such as "Total Recall," which he considered one of his best scores, as well as the "Star Trek" movies and more lightweight fare such as "Dennis the Menace."

His last film score was for last year's "Looney Tunes: Back in Action."

He also wrote the themes for television shows, including "Dr. Kildare" and "Barnaby Jones," and a 45-second fanfare that is used in Academy Awards telecasts.

"He could write anything. He did Westerns, comedies," Carruth said. "He preferred writing for more character-driven, quiet films but somehow they kept coming back to him for the action films."

Born Feb. 10, 1929 in Los Angeles, Goldsmith studied with famed pianist Jacob Gimpel and pianist, composer and film musician Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He fell in love with movie composing when he saw the 1945 Ingrid Bergman movie "Spellbound," Carruth said, and while attending the University of California took classes with Miklos Rozsa, who wrote the Oscar-winning score for that film.

In 1950, he got a job as a clerk typist at CBS and eventually got assignments for live radio shows, writing as much as one score a week. He later turned to television.

In the late 1950s he began composing for movies. His career took off in the 1960s with such major films as "Lonely Are the Brave" and "The Blue Max." He was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on 1962's "Freud" -- the first of nearly 20 nominations he would receive over the years though he won only once, for best original score for 1976's "The Omen." He also earned five Emmy Awards.

Goldsmith was know for his versatility and his experimentation. He added electronics to the woodwinds and brasses of his scores. For 1968's "Planet of the Apes," he got a blaring effect by having his musicians blow horns without mouthpieces. With a puckish sense of humor, he reportedly wore an ape mask while conducting the score.

"He experimented a lot and that's what made him so popular with his fans," Carruth said. "When he wrote, he got inside of the characters and he wrote what he felt they were thinking and feeling."

"He was very emotional when it came to his writing," she said. "He was very disciplined. He wrote every single day even if he had a cold or a flu."

Some of his motion picture scores were adapted for ballets. Goldsmith also wrote composed orchestral pieces and taught occasional music classes at local universities. Days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Goldsmith's two-minute musical tribute to the victims was performed at the Hollywood Bowl.

He also conducted orchestras around the world, and particularly enjoyed working with the London Symphony Orchestra, Carruth said.

Goldsmith is survived by his wife, Carol; children Aaron, Joel, Carrie, Ellen Edson and Jennifer Grossman, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild.