One of the most prolific composers of television soundtrack music from the 1950s through the 1980s, Earle Hagen came to the field after successes in big-band jazz and work in the movie industry as a musician and arranger. Hagen was born more than a decade before modern notions of movie music had even manifested themselves, in 1919. He was musically inclined as a boy and had taken up the trombone in junior high school in Los Angeles. He came of age amid the ascendancy of the big bands, and played with the likes of Isham Jones, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Ray Noble, and Ben Pollack. By 1939 he had also developed interests in composition and arranging, and that year he wrote "Harlem Nocturne," an instrumental piece inspired by his love of Duke Ellington's work, which became his first success as a composer. Hagen served in the U.S. Army Air Force band, and after returning to civilian life he got a job as an arranger at 20th Century-Fox.