A second-generation member of Hollywood's preeminent musical dynasty, composer Thomas Newman carried on his family's legacy through a series of Academy Award-nominated film scores. Born in Los Angeles on October 20, 1955, he was the son of Alfred Newman and the nephew of Lionel and Emil Newman, all three renowned composers and conductors from Hollywood's golden age; Thomas' brother David also followed in the family business, as did their cousin, the sardonic singer/songwriter Randy Newman. Thomas studied piano and violin as a child, following a two-year stay at the University of Southern California by earning a master's degree in music from Yale. Although his early musical theater project Three Mean Fairy Tales was championed by Stephen Sondheim, Newman spent the better part of the late '70s playing keyboards in the rock band the Innocents and the improvisational combo Tokyo 77. In 1983, he broke into the film industry by orchestrating a John Williams cue from Return of the Jedi, composing his first full score, Reckless, the following year.