Thursday, July 09, 2009

Remembering Bob Mitchell, 1912-2009

Bob Mitchell, the last surviving accompanist of the silent movie era, has passed away at the age of 96. From his Los Angeles Times obituary:
He helped create "a true revival of cinema on the highest level," said Charlie Lustman, who owned the theater from 1999 to 2006. "That you could walk into a classic theater and see a classic movie accompanied by a man who had done it way back when. . . ."

On Christmas Day 1924, Mitchell was practicing carols on the organ at the Strand Theater in Pasadena when the lights went down and a movie about the Yukon went up. The 12-year-old kept playing, improvising a soundtrack. Soon he was accompanying matinee shows five times a week.

He played for films such as the romantic wartime drama "What Price Glory," the action-adventure "Beau Geste" and the Fritz Lang futuristic fantasy "Metropolis."

With the arrival of talkies and Al Jolson in the 1927 film "The Jazz Singer," Mitchell's first silent-movie career ended when he was 16.
Mitchell, a Cal State and Trinity College graduate, also went on to play in the Armed Forces Radio Orchestra, worked as organist for both the LA Dodgers and California Angels (Mitchell was the first organist to play in Dodger Stadium), conducted choirs, and once again worked as a silent movie accompanist during the recent revival of the medium.

Memorial Service Information
MP3 of Bob Mitchell playing He's Got The Whole Wide World In His Hands
A remembrance by Jon Weisman in Dodger Thoughts

Here are the Mitchell Singing Boys with Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My Way:

(Via @blackwingjenny)

No comments:

Post a Comment