James Horner, Composer of Titanic, Avatar and Wrath of Khan Dies in Plane Crash

james horner

A single-engine plane registered to Composer James Horner crashed in Southern California Monday morning. The Federal Aviation Administration said that the plane was an S-312 Tucana MK1 Turbo-Prop with two seats. Horner’s death was confirmed by his assistant, Sylvia Patrycja on Facebook:


Mike Lundrey, spokesperson for the Ventura County Fire Department said the crash happened around 9:30 am local time in the Los Padres National Forest. The Pilot declared dead on the scene. Horner’s attorney Jay Cooper said that the plane was one of several that the 61-year-old composer owned. The crash started a one-acre brush fire.

Site of plane crash that took the life of Oscar-winning composer James Horner.


Cooper told VARIETY, “James was a very experienced pilot,” he said. “James loved flying. I don’t know anything more than that.”

When reached at their Calabasas, California home, a member of the Horner family asked for, “privacy at this time.”

James Horner, is widely regarded as one of the most prolific and celebrated film composers of all time. After his composing career began in concert halls, He quickly transitioned to film, tackling first the The Lady in Red and then the fan as well as critically acclaimed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He followed Wrath of Khan by composing the score for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in 1984.

To say the least, his film work is staggering. Including films like: Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind, Jumanji, The Amazing Spider-Man, Legends of the Fall, Field of Dreams, An American Tail, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Glory, The Rocketeer, Hocus Pocus, Bicentennial Man, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and many, MANY more.

Horner, pictured here with his two Academy Awards for his work on 1997’s Titanic.

Horner won two Oscars for his work on James Cameron’s blockbuster motion picture Titanic in 1997, one of them for Celine Dion’s hit song, My Heart Will Go On, which he co-wrote with Will Jennings. The score for Titanic is still the bestselling orchestral film soundtrack of all time with an astonishing 27 million copies sold worldwide to date.

In 2010, Horner again teamed up with Cameron composing the score for Avatar, and had begun work on the four planned Avatar sequels. In a 2009 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Horner speaks about his motivation when composing:

“My job — and it’s something I discuss with Jim (James Cameron) all the time — is to make sure at every turn of the film it’s something the audience can feel with their heart. When we lose a character, when somebody wins, when somebody loses, when someone disappears — at all times I’m keeping track, constantly, of what the heart is supposed to be feeling. That is my primary role.”

Aside from his Oscar wins, Horner’s four-decade career has garnered multiple Oscar nods for his work in films such as: “Braveheart,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Avatar,” “Aliens” and “Apollo 13.” In total, he has been nominated 10 times for the Academy Award. He had been nominated for other prestigious awards for his work too numerous to mention here.

In a December 2014 interview with David Hocquet about the state of his career, Horner said:

“I’m much choosier. I don’t want to be doing these movies that now 85 or 90 composers want, as opposed to six. And now all these movies, action movies. I don’t get offered all the movies obviously, but I see a lot of them and I do get asked to do a lot of them, and I just know they’re not asking me to do something that I can do something original, they’re asking me to do a formula and I’m too rebellious.”

More details about the crash are certain to be revealed in the coming hours as the Federal Aviation Administration is conducting an ongoing investigation. Deepest condolences go out to James Horner’s family and friends.


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About the author

Tim Piland

Timothy Piland is a classically trained tenor and opera singer. He was born and raised in the Springfield, Mo. Area.

He has performed Roles for Springfield Little Theater, Vandivort Theater, Springfield Regional Opera and Mobile Opera. He has also worked for the Puccini Festival, and the Kansas City Lyric Opera.

In his performing career he has performed roles in: Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Man of La Mancha, Die Fledermouse, La Fanciulla del West, Gianni Schicchi and many other shows.

In 2007, he toured the United Kingdom with the Church of the Incarnation out of Dallas, Texas. This included a week long engagement at Westminster Abbey, as well as a 9 day engagement at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In 2009 he originated the role of the Priest in "Frankenstein, Monster" by Le Wlhelm at the Gilloiz Theater.

He appeared onstage as Rupert Giles for, "A Class Act productions," in their ongoing presentation of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: A Reader’s Theatre Parody, from March 2010-July 2013.

In November 2011, he made his directoral debut, directing "Star Trek Live Onstage: The Trouble with Tribbles," also for "A Class Act." He went on to direct 14 of the next 17 episodes of that live stage show.

Each Christmas you can also catch him at the historic Pythian Castle where he performs in a, "Night of the Dueling Santas," a Christmas dinner show of his own writing. He has been the Ghost Tour Guide for the castle since 2010.

He has been featured on The Discovery Channel, SYFY Channel, The History Channel, NPR.

He is the founder of Harvest Moon Productions and oversees events ranging from concerts to straight plays. He is currently writing a book called "Ghostly Tales From Pythian Castle," which hopefully will see production at some point in 2014.

In 2013 he was cast as Dr. Howard Lagrasse in the 5 episode silent Horror web series SHADOW BOUND, for Arcane Productions. Most recently he was cast in a role in the feature film EVERYTHING, for Parallax Studio.

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