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Chris Ledesma, who served as the beloved music editor of The Simpsons on every one of its first 734 episodes, from the Fox animated series’ premiere in 1989 through a 34th-season installment in November, has died. He was 64.
Ledesma died Dec. 16 in Los Angeles, a spokesperson for the show told The Hollywood Reporter. No cause of death was revealed.
Ledesma had been hired to fill in as a music editor on Fox’s The Tracey Ullman Show, where The Simpsons began as a series of shorts playing in and out of commercials. He then started on the spinoff on Nov. 22, 1989.
“I was skeptical of turning the little 30- and 60-second featurettes on Tracey into a full-fledged, half-hour show,” he wrote on his blog in 2011. “All that went out the window as soon as I saw the first two shows.”
Ledesma noted on Twitter in September 2021 that he had been with The Simpsons for more than half his life. At the time, he was 23,242 days old and had been an employee for 11,621 of them.
He left the show in May, and his final Simpsons episode aired in November as the eighth installment of season 34. On Sunday night, the series paid tribute to him with an end title card that read, “In loving memory of Chris Ledesma.”
Christopher Frederick Ledesma was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 28, 1958. He started playing piano by ear at age 3, then took formal trumpet lessons beginning in the third grade.
While at CalArts, he decided to pursue a career in music editing after serving in that capacity on a student film. He also was an orchestral conducting major at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
When he wasn’t riding the tram as a tour guide at Universal Studios Hollywood, Ledesma sat in on scoring sessions for such shows as Murder, She Wrote, Magnum P.I., Airwolf and Amazing Stories. He called that “a priceless education that could never have been offered at any college or university.”
In September 1985, Ledesma landed a job as an apprentice music editor at leading music editing house Segue Music, where he handled acclaimed MTM Enterprises shows including Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere. He then worked for Music Design Group and Music Works before launching his own company, Click Track Inc., in 1992.
(Through all this, he didn’t give up his job on the Universal Studios tour until spring 1988.)
Staring in 1994, the two-time Emmy nominee also was music editor on another animated show, The Critic, created by Al Jean and Mike Reiss of The Simpsons.
In September 2014, he conducted a tribute to Simpsons composer Alf Clausen, with whom he worked so closely for so many years, at the Hollywood Bowl.
His résumé also included the films Back in the U.S.S.R. (1991), Dark Shadows (1991), Pure Country (1992), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), Blast From the Past (1999) and Dudley Do-Right (1999); 20 Hallmark Hall of Fame telefilms; the 1988 miniseries War and Remembrance; and the 1993 TV movie Gypsy, starring Bette Midler. (He received Emmy noms for those last two projects.)
Survivors include his wife, Michelle; two daughters and two sons-in-law; and three grandchildren.
“The most rewarding part of the job for me is that I have been able to support and care for my family, and I work with genuinely nice people on a show that makes other people happy,” he said.
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