FREEMAN, ERNEST (ERNIE) (16 Aug. 1922-15 May 1981) arose from Cleveland's "big band" scene to become one of Hollywood's leading composers and arrangers. A native Clevelander, he was the son of Ernest and Gertrude Freeman and a graduate of CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL. Earning a bachelor's degree from the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, he also played in the "Swing Club," a dance band organized by his sister Evelyn Freeman. He married Clevelander Isabelle Collier and in 1942 enlisted in the armed forces. Duringt WORLD WAR II he was stationed with the U.S. Navy Band at Bunker Hill Naval Air Station in Indiana. After the war Freeman went to the West Coast, where he obtained a master's degree from the Univ. of Southern California. He worked on the road as a pianist-arranger for Dinah Washington and DOROTHY DANDRIDGE.
Freeman eventually won 2 Grammy awards as an arranger, for "Strangers in the Night" with Frank Sinatra and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with Simon and Garfunkle. Over the course of his career he amassed a total of 60 gold albums and 150 gold singles. Among the other artists he arranged and conducted for were Paul Anka, Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis, Jr., Johnny Mathis, Mel Torme, the Four Aces, the Mills Brothers, and the Platters. His movie scores included "The Cool Ones" and "The Pink Jungle." He also conducted Dick Clark's Hollywood Bowl Concerts for 3 years and worked on television specials for Carol Channing and Leslie Uggams. Freeman died in North Hollywood and was interred at Forest Lawn. He was survived by his wife and a daughter, Janis Freeman. His niece Claire E. Freeman was director of CUYAHOGA METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY in 1995.