Stan Zabka

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Stan Zabka (Grass Valley, CA – nearest DMA is Sacramento)

Author of Razz Ma Tazz: My Life in Music, Television and Film


Elena Meredith | | 512-481-7096 | Twitter: @elenameredith



  • Spent 24 years at NBC, starting as a page boy, then as associate director of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
  • Award-winning composer, best known for his themes from television, including “Chimes,” the original “Tonight Show and “NBC Sports” themes
  • Writer/composer of “Christmas Eve in My Home Town,” an iconic tune also known as “The G.I. Christmas Song”
  • He’s one of the Greatest Generation: Stan served in World War II alongside his 7 brothers
  • During the Korean War, Stan joined the 301st Broadcast and Leaflet Group, a psychological warfare group made up of media members from NBC and the New York Daily News. They were dispatched to Europe, where Stan became Military News Chief of the American Forces Network.
  • Emmy-winning television director and assistant director of numerous films
  • A family man, who has created a legacy of entertainment—his son, Billy Zabka starred opposite Ralph Macchio in “The Karate Kid” and currently plays a role on “How I Met Your Mother.”


Although Stan Zabka’s career in entertainment truly began at the age of 5, being hoisted on tables to sing at the South Chicago YMCA, he got his first real break as a Page Boy at NBC. When he wasn’t conducting NBC tours, the young composer was finding his way into the music industry, holed up in a studio and writing songs at the piano. During this period he co-wrote (with Don Upton) his most famous song, “Christmas Eve in My Home Town.”

Stan’s work in the entertainment industry was interrupted twice by military service, first during World War II and again during the Korean War and the Cold War with Russia. Returning from Europe as Military News Chief of the American Forces Network he continued his music studies in New York and earned recognition as a composer of theme music for various Pulitzer, Christopher, and Emmy-award winning television specials. He co-composed (with Al D’Artega) “Chimes,” the original “Tonight Show” theme, the marching band version of which later became the signature theme of NBC Network Sports for many years.

Following a stint in sales with United Airlines and a summer on the road as male vocalist with the “Shanty Town” orchestra of Johnny Long, Stan spent 22 years as an Associate Director with NBC, including five years with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show and Perry Como on “Kraft Music Hall.”

He received an Emmy as a director of the daytime serial “The Doctors,” and was assistant director on episodes of “The Love Boat,” “The Eddie Capra Mysteries” and “Dallas.” His credits as an assistant director in motion pictures include “Midnight Run,” “Bronco Billy” and “Any Which Way You Can,” “Romancing The Stone,” “A Change of Seasons,” “Forced Vengeance,” “Streets of L.A.,” and “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”

He and his wife Nancy have three grown children, Billy, Judy and Guy, and live in Grass Valley, California.


“In Razz Ma Tazz, Stan Zabka gives us a glimpse into a very specialized corner of the greatest generation’s journey. Surviving the Great Depression and WWII, Stan immersed himself in the fragile fields of broadcasting, popular music, and movies—occasionally all at the same time. He takes us from the towers of Manhattan to the sound stages of Hollywood. Never a star, but always a player, Stan shows us a world few have seen and adds the perspective of an ultimate insider.”
—Nick Clooney, Distinguished Journalist in Residence, The Newseum, Washington, D.C.


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