Dolores Olga Claman, composer, pianist (born 6 Jul 1927 in Vancouver, BC; died 17 July 2021 in Spain). Dolores Claman and her husband, the writer Richard Morris, wrote the scores for various musicals. They were also one of Canada’s most successful jingle-writing teams. They completed some 3,000 jingles and won more than 40 awards. Claman’s best-known works are “The Hockey Theme,” the theme song for CBC TV’s Hockey Night in Canada; and the title song for the film A Place to Stand (known popularly as “Ontar-i-ar-i-ar-i-o”). “The Hockey Theme” has been considered Canada’s second national anthem. It was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010.
Claman, whose mother was an operetta singer, studied piano first in Vancouver, and music and drama at the University of Southern California. Encouraged by the baritone Lawrence Tibbett (who heard some of her songs), she attended the Juilliard School of Music on a fellowship. There her teachers were Rosina Lhévinne and Edward Steuermann (piano) and Vittorio Giannini and Bernard Wagenaar (composition).
Among Claman’s first major compositions were the ballet Le Rêve fantasque (1950) and the musical comedy Timber! (1952). The latter, written with lyricists Doug Nixon and David Savage, was produced in 1952 at Theatre Under the Stars. Excerpts were broadcast by the CBC that year and recorded for Radio Canada International in 1954.
In 1953, Claman went to London, England. She composed music for the ITV network and collaborated on songs for such West End revues as Airs on a Shoestring (1953); From Here to There (1955); Fresh Airs (1956); and Pieces of Eight (1957).
In London in 1957, Claman met and married the writer Richard Morris (born 13 October 1931 in London, naturalized Canadian 1975). He wrote the lyrics for most of her subsequent work. They moved to Toronto in 1958 and soon became one of Canada’s most successful jingle-writing teams. They completed some 3,000 jingles in the following 30 years and won more than 40 awards internationally. In the mid-1970s, they began to divide their time between Europe (usually London and Spain) and Vancouver.
Claman and Morris wrote Mr. Scrooge (1963, with Ted Wood), a musical based on Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. It was produced at Toronto’s Crest Theatre in 1963 and on CBC TV in 1964. They also wrote In the Klondike (1968, with Michael Leighton), a musical that was broadcast by the CBC on 6 May 1968. They also contributed to Spring Thaw,
and composed scores for documentaries and feature films (e.g., The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever, 1970; Captain Apache, 1972; plus various
Spanish westerns). They also wrote the themes for CBC TV’s House of Pride and other TV series.
Claman’s best-known works are “The Hockey Theme,” the theme song for CBC TV’s Hockey Night in Canada, which has been considered Canada’s second national anthem; and the title song for the film A Place to Stand (known popularly as “Ontar-i-ar-i-ar-i-o”), which was made for the Ontario Pavilion at Expo 67. The film won an Academy Award for best live action short film. Claman also wrote the theme song of the Canada Games, “Look Out World,” in 1969.
Claman appeared on Hockey Night in Canada in 1998. She continued to assert her rights over the use of its theme, particularly during a bitter dispute over royalites in 2008, after which the rights to the theme were purchased by CTV and began to be used on TSN’s hockey broadcasts.
Among the Canadians with whom Claman worked are the conductor Howard Cable; the arranger Neil Chotem; and Jerry and Rudy Toth, with whom Claman and Morris formed Quartet Productions. Claman was a member of CAPAC.
“The Hockey Theme” was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2016, Claman received the Cultural Impact Award from SOCAN in recognition of “The Hockey Theme” and its place in Canadian culture.