Al Goodman was a composer, conductor and music director who worked on the stage, in radio and in television.
Singer Al Jolson tapped Goodman as his music director in 1919 and for years Goodman was in the pits for Jolson’s shows, including his last, “Hold Onto Your Hats.”
Goodman discovered entertainer Eddie Cantor when Goodman was working on the musical “Canary Cottage” with producer Earl Carroll. In turn, Goodman would later become musical director for Cantor’s comedy show as well as wield the baton for Donald O’Connor and Abbott and Costello.
Goodman organized the popular “Your Hit Parade” on radio in 1935, but he told The Times that television was the roughest job he ever had.
“It has changed all the theories of leading an orchestra because every beat and cue has to coincide with the stage action or the entire production is off balance,” he said in 1953. “Now, in addition to watching the orchestra, I have to listen on one earphone to the TV director, on the other to the singer on the stage and in between the two retain enough composure to remember what is coming up next. It takes real concentration.”
His orchestras over the years included names such as Benny Goodman, while Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Milton Berle and countless others have depended on his downbeat.