BOB MITCHELL- LA's oldest organist- THE END OF AN ERA

The Legacy Of Bob Mitchell, October 12, 1912- july 4th, 2009

ANOTHER ICON has left us, although more obsurce that the king of pop, BOB MITCHELL was KING OF THE ORGAN.

Born October 12, 1912, Bob Mitchell showed an acute aptitude & appreciation of music at a very early age. In 1924, when still only 12, Bob started playing organ accompaniment to silent films, beginning a passion for silent cinema music that would last a lifetime. In the 1930's he started his Boys Choir, which gained much success; the Mitchell Singing Boys would appear in scores of films, most notably GOING MY WAY (1944) with Bing Crosby. On his 90th birthday in 2002, Bob Mitchell was still keeping very busy playing the organ for church and weddings, personal appearances and silent films - delighting new audiences with his gift of music.
Nominated for an Academy Award, FORTY BOYS AND A SONG is an informative & highly entertaining little film which spotlights a premiere American musical institution from years past. We watch the young fellows in the classroom, at play and at church. Always, music is being taught, performed & enjoyed and we get to hear the boys' renditions of "Home On the Range," "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean" & "Shortenin' Bread."

The first thing you notice about Bob Mitchell, are his eyes. They twinkle with an innocent delight, especially when the conversation turns to music. He is tall and lanky, but still one of those men that makes a dark suit and trousers look dashing even on a hot afternoon.
The founder-leader of the Mitchell Boys Choir for more than 70 years, he belted out a couple of “popular” tunes with his powerful voice as his long fingers nimbly danced across the well-worn keys of his upright piano.

When “talkies” ushered out the era of silent pictures, Mitchell made a successful career change to other burgeoning media. Throughout the 30s he was staff organist at various times for KMTR, KEME, KHJ and from 1940 to 1965 at KFI radio. Another contribution the church made to his musical life also included a love for choral music.

He subsequently formed Mitchell Boys Choir, which provided the music for and appeared in dozens of films including “Angels with Dirty Faces” with James Cagney and the Christmas classic, “The Bishop’s Wife."

His boy’s choir also recorded with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra among others. His works with the boy’s choir also garnered him several illustrious honors including a Silver Medal from Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco, a Medal from the Pope and the Boy Scouts of America.

On his 90th birthday, Bob was the focus of a fittingly lavish and affectionate celebration at LA’s Palace Theater hosted by actor Bill Pullman and Charlie Lustman, proprietor of the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax Ave. The fans in attendance were treated to an episode of “This Is Your Life," honoring Mitchell as well as a cameo by comedian Eddie Cantor, a regular fixture on the Orpheum Theatre circuit.

As vivacious as ever, the refrain of Mitchell’s life has come full circle 80 years later. He plays several nights a week before his old colleagues Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and other silent screen legends at the Silent Movie Theatre. He is also assembling a new boy’s choir for the Christ the King Parish on N. Rossmore Ave.

“Of course, it’s music that I live for,” says Bob Mitchell, and so with each passing day it’s like a full, happy lifetime in itself.
a service for bob will be on friday morning @ Christ the King Parish on N. Rossmore Ave.

1 comment:

  1. This was a sad loss. I remember how Mr. Austin would call him "Our Living Treasure"...