Herbert Stothart II died on Oct. 6 from complications of a stroke. He was 74.
Stothart was born on Nov. 23, 1929 in Santa Monica as the only son of artist Mary Vernon Wolfe and the pioneer Broadway and MGM film composer Herbert Stothart, best known for the original score for “The Wizard of Oz.”
Stothart was raised in Santa Monica and attended The Harvard School and UCLA, were he earned a master’s degree in art history. Stothart later married Roberta Ann Bates and they built a home on the Old Malibu Road in Malibu, a location he carefully selected for its perfect surf break.
Driven by his great passion for Italian art, Stothart moved his family to a tiny village in the Provincia di Como in Northern Italy, where he worked as an early faculty member of The American School in Switzerland and Franklin College in Lugano. The family traveled extensively together, often crossing the Atlantic Ocean on banana boats and other nontraditional forms of transportation.
Stothart later returned to Southern California and taught art history at UCLA and Santa Monica City College. He was well-known for inviting students and friends on day-long field trips to his mountaintop property in Solstice Canyon, the “Castello Academy in Malibu-A Center for Spiritual Renaissance” for passionate discussions and lectures about ancient art and architecture, Greek tragedies, Italian opera, ethics, gardening, sculpture and nature. Family members say Stothart was a consummate dreamer and was deeply intrigued and committed to the idea of living off the land.
Determined to uphold his father’s musical legacy, Stothart was also a great supporter of The Film Music Society and its efforts toward film music preservation, maintaining many of his father’s music manuscripts and papers. The Herbert Stothart Collection is being catalogued for UCLA Music Special Collections and will include rare information about Broadway and Hollywood history.
Stothart is survived by his four daughters, Lisa, Camille, Anna Lucia and Betta, his sister Constance Stothart Bongi and his wife, Roberta Bates Stothart. A memorial service will take place on “The Mountain” in the spring.