Gordon Jenkins

Gordon Jenkins


Gordon Jenkins
Music: South side of the 6600 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Composer | Conductor | Musician
Born May 12, 1910 in Webster Groves, MO
Died May 1, 1984 of Lou Gehrig's disease in Malibu, CA

Gordon Jenkins was a composer-arranger-conductor and creator of pop hits and classics. His "Manhattan Tower" suite brought him critical acclaim, while popular songs such as "P.S. I Love You" and "San Fernando Valley" topped record charts.

A professional musician for nearly six decades, Jenkins suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease.

Born May 10, 1910, in Webster Groves, Mo., Jenkins was the youngest member of a musically inclined family and made his own professional debut early — just a few days after he won an amateur ukulele-playing contest.

During the Great Depression, Chicago was practically awash in hopeful musicians. Nonetheless, young Jenkins managed to find steady work as an arranger and pianist with the well-known Isham Jones band, and gradually built a reputation.

Other band leaders — Vincent Lopez, Benny Goodman, and even the great Paul Whiteman — began to bid for his services, and finally he was offered his first Broadway job, arranging scores and conducting the orchestra for Beatrice Lillie's musical "The Show Is On Us."

That success in turn led to his first Hollywood offer.

In California, he worked for a time for Paramount, scoring films and conducting, then moved to NBC as West Coast network musical director.

One of his first successful efforts as a composer was "Goodbye," the moody closing theme for Benny Goodman, and while still at NBC he continued to turn out a choice collection of memorable music for movies and nightclubs, while also earning credits as author of such chart-topping hits as "Blue Prelude," "You Have Taken My Heart," "When a Woman Loves a Man" and "Tomorrow."

Jenkins left the network in 1944 to conduct a 31-piece orchestra on the Dick Haymes radio show where he also collaborated with Tom Adair on the "capsule operettas" that were the program's best remembered feature.

In 1949, he appeared as a headliner at the Capitol Theater in New York, moved to the Paramount two years later — and then to Las Vegas, where he appeared at the Thunderbird and Rivera hotels for the next decade.

He returned to NBC as a television producer from 1955 to 1957. In 1957 he also conducted a show for Judy Garland in London.

He also made records with his own orchestra and with such performers as Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Artie Shaw, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, and Nat King Cole.

He won a Grammy Award in 1965 for his arrangement of Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year."

He died at his home in Malibu, 11 days short of his 74th birthday.

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