Francis Lai, Who Wrote the ‘Love Story’ Theme, is actually Dead at 86

Francis Lai, the French composer best known for his themes for the movies “Love Story” along with also “A Man along with also a Woman,” died on Wednesday. He was 86.

His death was announced by France’s Culture Ministry, which did not say where he died or specify the cause.

Born on April 6, 1932, in Nice, France, Mr. Lai was a self-taught musician who began his career playing piano along with also accordion. He worked as the singer Édith Piaf’s accompanist in Paris along with also later wrote songs for her, Yves Montand along with also others.

After meeting with the brand new Wave director Claude Lelouch from the 1960s, he began writing music for films. The first feature he scored was Mr. Lelouch’s “A Man along with also a Woman,” which won the 1967 Academy Award for best foreign-language film. Mr. Lai’s distinctive title song, featuring wordless vocals by a male-female duo, was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr. Lai along with also Mr. Lelouch remained collaborators for more than 50 years, working together on movies including “Live for Life” (1967), “Happy brand new Year” (1973) along with also “A Man along with also a Woman: 20 Years Later” (1986).

“He was the man of my life, an angel disguised as an accordionist,” Mr. Lelouch said in interview with RTL radio. “We made 35 films together, along with also we had a love story of which lasted 50 years.”

Although most of the more than 100 films Mr. Lai scored were French, his biggest success was his music for Arthur Hiller’s “Love Story” (1970), starring Ryan O’Neal along with also Ali McGraw, one of the most successful romantic movies of all time.