James Melton

James Melton


James Melton
Radio: South side of the 6300 block of Hollywood Boulevard
James Melton
Music: South side of the 6500 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Jan. 2, 1904 in Moultrie, GA
Died April 21, 1961 of pneumonia in New York, NY

James Melton was a tenor whose voice was known to millions of radio, television, opera and concert fans.

Handsome, 6-foot-2 and usually smiling, Melton got his New York start in the musical world with "Roxy's Gang," an entertainment group at the Roxy Theater. His career reached its peak in the 1940s.

Melton was born in Moultrie, Ga., and made his home in Weston, Mass., with his wife, the former Marjorie McClure of Akron, and their daughter, Margot.

Melton attended the University of Florida, the University of Georgia and Vanderbilt University.

The singer, who intended originally to become a lawyer, credited the late A. A. Murphree, president of the University of Florida, with advising him to take up a musical career. Murphree had heard him singing in chapel.

Although Melton's success in New York was almost instant, he had some difficulty getting a chance to show his talent.

"Roxy" Rothafel, headman at the Roxy, was too busy to give him an audition. Melton settled that by singing in a loud tone outside Rothaphel's office door while Roxy aides shouted in protest. Rothaphel went out to see what the commotion was about, liked Melton's voice and hired him on the spot.

Radio shows on which he appeared included "The Ford Sunday Hour," "The Telephone Hour," "The Texaco Star Theatre" and "The Harvest of Stars." He later had his own television show.

He sang with the Cincinnati and Chicago operas before going to the Metropolitan.

Melton also appeared in motion pictures, among them "Stars Over Broadway," "Sing Me a Love Song," "Melody for Two" and "Ziegfeld Follies."

From 1940 to 1942 alone he gave 30 operatic and 100 concert performances and appeared on 125 radio broadcasts.

Melton had a sense of humor illustrated by an incident in a Kansas City concert. After he had responded to several calls for encores, one man in the balcony was particularly insistent for yet another song. Melton waved to him and said: "Thank you, Uncle Charlie."

"Jimmy Melton," a critic wrote, "would be a brilliant concert artist if he took himself a little more seriously."

Melton also was widely known as a collector of vintage automobiles. At one time he owned 82 — all in running condition.

He died April 21, 1961, after checking into New York's Roosevelt Hospital with bronchial pneumonia, which developed into lobar pneumonia. He was 57.

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