'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman' Composer William Olvis Dies at 56

William Olvis Headshot - P 2014

William Olvis Headshot - P 2014

He also did the theme music for the James Earl Jones series “Gabriel’s Fire” and worked on such films as “Red Rock West” and “Steal Big Steal Little.”

William Patrick Olvis, who composed the sweeping theme for the popular CBS Western drama Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, died May 6 of throat cancer at his home in Malibu. He was 56.

Olvis also composed the theme for Gabriel’s Fire, the short-lived 1990-91 ABC series that starred James Earl Jones.

Olvis contributed music to 116 episodes of the Jane Seymour-starring Dr. Quinn, which aired for six seasons from 1993-98.

From 1989-93, he composed music for 31 episodes of the ABC family drama Life Goes On, the first TV series to feature a major character (played by Chris Burke) with Down syndrome. 

Olvis, whose father, William Edward Olvis, was an actor and renowned opera singer, also served as a composer on the films Kill Me Again (1989), 29th Street (1991), Red Rock West (1993), Separate Lives (1995) and Steal Big Steal Little (1995).

Film critic Roger Ebert described his score for Red Rock West, which starred Nicolas Cage and Dennis Hopper, as “textured” and one that enhanced the tone of the “diabolical movie that exists sneakily between a Western and a thriller, between a film noir and a black comedy.”

He began his professional career in 1988 composing the score for the ABC telefilm Evil in Clear River.

Olvis won ASCAP most performed underscore awards in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Survivors include his brother Steve, sisters Yvette and Natasha and ex-wife Cathleen Young, who was his music agent and partner and announced his death.

A memorial service will be private.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4