An American Icon

Prelude

AN AMERICAN ICON

Glenn Miller’s life and career prior to December 7, 1941, which sets the stage for “Glenn Miller: Declassified.”

Original Manuscript of Glenn Miller’s theme, “Moonlight Serenade”

MOONLIGHT SERENADE

Sustaining Broadcast, Glen Island Casino, New Rochelle, New York
Friday, June 30, 1939, 11:30 – 11:45 pm, NBC-Blue (WJZ)

PREVIEW

“Mike Nidorf of Rockwell-O’Keefe (later General Amusements Corporation) believed in Miller and successfully fought to retain his account by seeking investors and bookings. Legendary Boston ballroom operator Simon “Cy” Shribman put in substantial seed money, helped pay off the loan from Dorsey, and shrewdly managed Miller’s development with Nidorf. The new band opened at Boston’s Raymor Ballroom in April 1938 and appeared at New York’s Paradise Restaurant in June 1938. Eli Oberstein of RCA Victor signed Miller to a recording contract, and the band made their first records for the RCA Bluebird label in September. Miller had a fighting chance to get on a solid footing and gain exposure with national radio broadcasts. The band caught the attention of Michael DeZutter, manager of the prestigious Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York. With the help of an Iona college student and future Miller employee, Tom Sheils, Nidorf persuaded DeZutter to book Miller for the 1939 summer season. Frank Dailey promptly booked the Miller band into his Cedar Grove, New Jersey, Meadowbrook Ballroom. The Meadowbrook opportunity and the summer season at the casino led to Miller becoming a superstar.

“When Pee Wee Irwin left Ray Noble, Miller salvaged his high trumpet part arrangements by having Johnnie Mince play the parts on clarinet. The result was the genesis of the so-called Glenn Miller Sound. During 1937 Miller was trying to develop a lead-tenor reed section, and so he hired clarinet player Irving Fazola (Prestopnick). Glenn was not happy paying Faz for a full night’s work and only getting partial production. He instructed Fazola to read the lead tenor’s music sheet when he was not playing clarinet solos. This resulted in the b-flat clarinet playing the same notes as the B-flat tenor, only sounding an octave higher. Glenn’s substitution of Mince for Irwin and his instructions to Fazola were important steps in a style that evolved over time.”

Stage Show, Paramount Theater, New York, September-October 1939