Public Memorial for Skitch Henderson Set for February 6
This free memorial service is open to the public, with tickets being issued beginning at 2pm on a first-come, first-served basis. Henderson died of natural causes at his home in New Milford, Connecticut on November 1. He was 87 years old.
As part of the service, Rob Fisher will conduct the New York Pops, the beloved orchestra Henderson founded in 1983. In addition, many members of the Pops will speak, along with executives from Carnegie Hall and Henderson's widow, Ruth.
Born Lyle Cedric Russell Henderson in England in 1918, he began his career in the United States as a vaudveville pianist. In 1937, he served as an accompanist for Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney on a concert tour and moved to Hollywood after its conclusion. He then joined MGM's music department, where he worked with Bob Hope and other major stars. (Henderson got his nickname from Hope's good friend Bing Crosby.)
After World War II, during which he flew for both England's Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Corps, Henderson worked with Frank Sinatra before becoming music director for both NBC Radio and later NBC Television. He was the original bandleader for The Tonight Show and worked with various hosts including Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson.