Rod McKuen, poet, singer and Oscar nominee, dead at 81

US poet/composer Rod McKuen at a reception honouring Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, California. -- PHOTO: AFP 
US poet/composer Rod McKuen at a reception honouring Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, California. -- PHOTO: AFP 

WASHINGTON (AFP) - American poet, songwriter and singer Rod McKuen, a multiple Academy Award nominee, died on Thursday at the age of 81, the American media reported.

McKuen died in Los Angeles of respiratory arrest after suffering from pneumonia, friend and producer Jim Pierson said, according to The Los Angeles Times.

His work included the Academy Award-nominated song Jean for the 1969 film The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie and he was nominated for an Oscar again in 1971 for his work on the animated film A Boy Named Charlie Brown.

McKuen was a prolific composer, working with artists such as Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra.

The Hollywood show business publication Variety said he published 30 books of poetry, including Listen To The Warm, which sold millions of copies. He won a spoken word Grammy for Lonesome Cities.

The St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture said that at the peak of his career McKuen was "the unofficial poet laureate of America", The New York Times said.

His work also included English-language adaptations of songs by Jacques Brel, including his adaptation of Brel's song Le Moribond into the English-language Seasons In The Sun.