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Wilbur Gram BEITTEL

Composer / Arranger / Botanist

Born: 2 March 1913, Columbia, Pennsylvania USA

Died: 9 February 1999, Santa Barbara, California USA

Wilbur (Will) Gram Beittel, son of Ralph and Ada Grace, was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania. After attending New York University and Oberlin College, he began a music career in 1936 as composer and arranger for radio's "Lucky Strike Hit Parade" and "CBS Swing Session".


He also orchestrated for various motion picture studios until he abandoned music for horticulture around 1955 after attending Pierce Agricultural College. Beittel moved to Santa Barbara, California, and became the City Arborist until 1963, when he became the Senior Nurseryman at The University of California, Santa Barbara. He continued growing unusual exotic species that he planted around the campus grounds, many of which are still there today. Books he authored include: "Santa Barbara's Street and Park Trees", "Santa Barbara's Trees", and "Dr. F. Franceschi, Pioneer Plantsman". He co-wrote "Trees of Santa Barbara" with Katherine Muller and Richard Broder.


As so many of his film orchestrations were ‘uncredited,’ it’s possible he became disillusioned with Hollywood and moved into horticulture—something he loved more. Some of those uncredited films were “These Wilder Years” 1956, “Ransom!” 1956, “The Tender Trap” 1955, “Escape from Fort Bravo” 1953, “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis” 1953, “Remains to Be Seen” 1953. He did receive composer credit for the 1954 film, “Drive a Crooked Road,” starring Mickey Rooney and Kevin McCarthy.

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