Rugulo’s Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated work combined elements of classical and jazz to create distinctly buoyant compositions and arrangements. He first gained attention as the lead arranger for the Stan Kenton Orchestra, one of the most successful big bands of the 40s and 50s, and is credited with forming the group’s sound, dubbed “progressive jazz.”
Rugolo released his own acclaimed recordings and crafted arrangements for other artists such as Peggy Lee, Charlie Parker, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, June Christy, The Four Freshmen, Patti Page and Mel Torme, and others. Rugolo produced Harry Belafonte’s first singles, and produced and titled the legendary Miles Davis/Gil Evans/Jerry Mulligan “Birth of the Cool” sessions.
His contributions to television include the iconic theme and additional music for The Fugitive, as well as music for Run for Your Life, The Thin Man, The Twilight Zone, The Outsider, Leave It to Beaver, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Family, and more.
Also adept at writing for film, Rugolo crafted orchestrations for pictures such as Kiss Me Kate and Skirts Ahoy, and composed original scores for Jack the Ripper, The Sweet Ride, and more.
He was born in Italy in 1915, and when he was five years old, Rugolo and his parents immigrated to California, where he spent most of his life. He is survived by his wife Edye, as well as three children and three grandchildren.