Anyone with an interest in the history of Curtin Village and the Curtin family knows the name of Andrew Gregg Curtin, founder Roland Curtin's son and Governor of Pennsylvania during the Civil War. Governor Curtin was not the only Curtin to make a name for himself, however. My favorite Curtin descendant is Roland Curtin's great-great grandson, Hoyt Curtin (1922-2000).
Hoyt Curtin was a descendant of founder Roland Curtin (1764-1850) via his son Roland G. Curtin (1808-1875), the Governor's half brother. (Roland G's mother was Margery Gregg Curtin; Andrew's mother was Margery's cousin, Jane Gregg Curtin.) Roland G. Curtin's grandson, Frank Montgomery Curtin (1880-1958) was born in Bellefonte, but migrated to California. Frank's son, Hoyt, was born there in 1922.
Hoyt grew up in San Bernadino, CA and was interested in music from an early age. After serving in the Navy during WWII, he studied music at USC and landed a job composing music for radio and TV ads. His big break came when he worked with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera on a Schlitz beer ad.
Hanna and Barbera were in the process of creating the Ruff & Ready cartoon show, and they asked Curtin to write a theme song. The legend is that Curtin presented them with a tune five minutes after being asked. Apparently it was exactly what they had in mind. Hanna and Barbera went on to become cartoon gurus, and Curtin became their music composer, arranger, conductor, and producer for more than 20 years.
Without knowing it, those of us of 1950's vintage grew up listening to Hoyt Curtin's music. He created moods with the theme songs and background music for classics such as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quickdraw McGraw, and Scooby Doo. Even the teenagers of today are familiar with the Jetsons and the biggest of all in my mind -- The Flintstones theme song. Most of us can play that theme in our mind and see Fred Flintsone peddling his car through Bedrock at the front end of the show and pounding on the front door of his house at the closing. But to appreciate Hoyt Curtin's genius, go back and listen to the brilliant brassy jazz in a lot of those pieces.
It's interesting that the connection of this music to the Curtin legacy is a well-kept secret. My father was born in Curtin in 1905 and watched those shows with me when I was a little guy. I'm quite confident that he was unaware of the Curtin connection; otherwise, it is a near-certainty that he would have proudly pointed it out.
Jerry is a retired general surgeon and a new Board Member of the Roland Curtin Foundation. He has Curtin roots extending back to 1831, through four previous generations.