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Kenneth Lorin "Ken" Darby was an American composer, vocal arranger, lyricist, and conductor, who worked on Disney films throughout the 1940s, like Dumbo, Make Mine Music, Melody Time, and So Dear to My Heart. He was also a writer and production supervisor for the studio.

Darby was born in Hebron, Nebraska, on May 13, 1909, to Lorin Edward Darby and Clara Alice Powell and was educated at Christian College alongside Tibor Serly, Ernst Toch, Herman Hand, and Victor Young. He originated The King's Men male vocal quartet in 1929 and appeared on radio, films, concerts, television, and recordings. Such film appearances included Honolulu, You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith, Call Out the Marines, For Me and My Gal, Two-Faced Woman, Renegade Trail, Broadway Serenade, Going Hollywood, and Alexander's Ragtime Band. Later, he led and arranged music for the Ken Darby Singers for people, like Bing Crosby, where the group provided background vocals for his recording of "White Christmas".

Joining ASCAP in 1946, his popular-song compositions included "The Chool Song", "Love Song of Kalua", "Saga of the Ponderosa", "Ports of Paradise", "Merry Christmas Neighbor", "Endless Prairie", "Whispering Wind", "Army Air Corps Song", a musical version of "T'was the Night Before Christmas", "This Friendly World", "I'm Gonna File My Claim"), "The River of No Return", "You're Easy to Dance With", "Once You Kiss a Stranger", "Ballad of the Green Berets", "New York", "Vicki", "Sunday Morning", and "Love Me Tender".

Darby's film scores were recognized by the awarding of three Academy Awards and one Grammy Award. His first major film contribution was providing musical arrangement for the Munchkinland sequence in The Wizard of Oz, as well as vocals for the mayor, portrayed by Charlie Becker. he would continue to work as a composer, arranger, and vocal director for movies, like The King and I, South Pacific, Porgy and Bess, Flower Drum Song, How the West Was Won, Camelot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, There's No Business Like Show Business, Love Me Tender, Bus Stop, Finian's Rainbow, The Greatest Story Ever Told, State Fair, River of No Return, The Girl Next Door, Call Me Madam, Stars and Stripes Forever, With a Song in My Heart, Mr. Belvedere Goes to College, The Canadians, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, Garden of Evil, Carousal, Rancho Notorious, Elmer Gantry, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and An Affair to Remember. He also provided the theme songs for the television shows: The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and The Adventures of Jim Bowie.

In later life, Darby wrote a biography of author Neo Wolfe titled "The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe". He was in the final process of writing "Hollywood Holyland: The Filming and Scoring of 'The Greatest Story Ever Told" when he died in 1992. He was buried at the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.


Year Film Position
1941 Dumbo Musical Director - uncredited
1942 Bambi Choral Arrangements - uncredited
1946 Song of the South Vocal Director
Songwriter: "Who Wants to Live Like That?"
"Let the Rain Pour Down"
"All I Want" - uncredited
1946 Make Mine Music Associate Music Director
Choral Director: Ken Darby Chorus & The King's Men
Songwriter: "Make Mine Music"
"Casey (The Pride of Them All)"
Composer: "Casey at the Bat"
Musical Director: "Willie the Operatic Whale"
Performer: "Blue Bayou"
1948 Melody Time Musical Director
Composer: "Little Toot"
"Once Upon a Wintertime"
1949 So Dear to My Heart Vocal Director
1949 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Vocal Arranger
1950 The Brave Engineer Composer
Singer (as The King's Men)


  • When Walt Disney criticized his proposed score for The Legend of Johnny Appleseed, he said "That is just a cross section of one man's opinion."

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