Al Kasha, the songwriter who won Academy Awards in the 1970s for co-writing hit ballads for “The Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno,” died Monday in Los Angeles. He was 83. No cause of death was immediately given.
As part of a songwriting team with Joel Hirschhorn, Kasha received two Tony nominations, four Golden Globe nods and a People’s Choice award, plus a pair of additional Oscar nominations for “Pete’s Dragon” in addition to the duo’s two wins for the Irwin Allen disaster movies.
“Write in Power,” tweeted Diane Warren, who succeeded Kasha as movie-theme royalty. “A great songwriter and lovely man,” she said, adding a broken-heart emoji.
“The Morning After,” from 1972’s “The Poseidon Adventure,” is still remembered as one of the more indelible movie themes of all time, either despite or because of the fact that it appeared within the body of the film, being sung on the cruise ship before New Year’s Eve calamity struck. A version of the song covered by Maureen McGovern reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Making good on McGovern’s use of their song, Kasha and Hirschhorn enlisted her as they reunited with producer Allen to write “We May Never Love Like This Again” for 1974’s “The Towering Inferno.” The two songs almost invented a subgenre of sensitive ballads that could have been considered at odds with the big-budget disaster pictures they turned up in, if not for the slightest of tragic undertones that Kasha and Hirschhorn cleverly wrote into them. (Kasha is pictured above, right, at the 1975 Oscars ceremony with Hirschhorn, left, and presenter Gene Kelly, center.)
The duo’s other two Oscar nods came for the 1977 Walt Disney film “Pete’s Dragon,” which picked up nominations for both its score and its song (“Candle On The Water,” sung by Helen Reddy).
Their Tony nominations rewarded their work on the Broadway musicals “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and “Copperfield.”
Kasha wrote three books: “If They Ask, You Can Write A Song,” ” Notes On Broadway” and an autobiography, “Reaching The Morning After.” He was said to have been at work on a fourth, “The Ultimate Book on Songwriting.”
The songwriter was born in New York City on January 22, 1937. Following work as a producer at Columbia Records in his early, he went on to become a Brill Building denizen in 1959, crafting material for some of the most renowned artists in pop in the 1960s. Kasha had a long string of songs recorded by Jackie Wilson, including “I’m Coming on Back To You,” “My Empty Arms,” “Forever And A Day,” “Each Night I Dream Of You,” “Lonely Life” and “Sing And Tell The Blues So Long.” Others who recorded his material included Aretha Franklin (“Operation Heartbreak” and “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”), Charles Aznavour (“Dance In The Old Fashioned Way”), Bobby Darin (“Irresistible You”) and, in the 1980s, Donna Summer (“I’m A Fire”).
In later decades, he became known for his faith-based efforts, including scoring “China Cry,” a feature film produced by the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
In recent years he wrote two musicals, “The Real Love” and “Loving The Silent Tears,” that he created with Supreme Master Ching Hai., a Vietnamese poet.
Kasha is survived by his wife, Ceil Kasha, a daughter, Dana Kasha-Cohen, her husband, Randy Cohen, and Kasha’s grandson, Dean Cohen.