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James Horner (AFP)

Los Angeles (AFP) – James Horner, the celebrated composer of several Hollywood smash-hit films including “Titanic” and “Avatar,” died in a plane crash at the age of 61, US media reported.

Hollywood trade magazine Variety reported the composer died on Monday when his personal aircraft crashed in Santa Barbara, California.

“Brilliant Composer James Horner, friend & collaborator on 7 movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones,” wrote director and colleague Ron Howard on Twitter.

Horner won an Oscar for his work on the song “My Heart Will Go On” in historical drama “Titanic.” He was also nominated for an Academy Award six times for blockbuster movies including “Apollo 13,” “Braveheart” and “Field of Dreams.”

Horner’s most recent Oscar nomination was for 2009’s sci-fi epic “Avatar,” directed by James Cameron.

1990’s American film touchstones such as “Patriot Games,” “Searching for Bobby Fischer” and “Jumanji” were also composed by Horner.

He won one Golden Globe and was nominated seven times.

Top actors and directors in the television and film world paid tribute to Horner online.

“Incredibly saddened to hear about the loss of James Horner. I grew up loving his work. He leaves behind a spectacular musical legacy,” television series creator Seth MacFarlane tweeted.

“There is nothing that shaped my movie-going experience more than the musical genius of James Horner. He will live on through the ages,” tweeted actor Rob Lowe.