Edelman was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He was raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, the son of a first-grade teacher and an accountant. He attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music before heading to New York where he played piano in Broadway pit orchestras. He produced several solo albums of songs (some of which were later recorded by The Carpenters ("I Can't Make Music," "Piano Picker," and "You"), Barry Manilow ("Weekend in New England"), "If Love Is Real" from Olivia Newton-John's Making a Good Thing Better and others) before moving to Los Angeles. It was there where Edelman started to work in TV and film scoring.
One of his first film scores was for the 1973 movie Executive Action which put forward an additional version of some theories concerning the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963. In the mid 1980s, Edelman wrote the theme to, and scored many episodes of MacGyver, a popular television series starring Richard Dean Anderson.
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