Mitch Miller, who, through his TV show Sing Along with Mitch and a series of LPs, taught the public the lyrics to popular music in the ’50s and ’60s, has died at the age of 99. With his trademark mustache and goatee, and expressive conducting, Mitch Miller became an unlikely TV star when a one-shot special on Ford Motor Company’s Startime led to a 1961-66 TV series. Miller later served as a successful executive in the music industry.
The Archive of American Television interviewed Mitch Miller on July 24, 2004.
Mitch Miller talked about his early musical interests in high school, where he played the oboe. He talked about his first professional jobs in Rochester, New York, and his move to New York City. He mentioned working with George Gershwin and described the orchestration of “Rhapsody in Blue.” He talked about joining the CBS symphony orchestra in the mid-30s, where he appeared on radio through the 1940s. He talked about working at Mercury Records and then Columbia Records, and his nurturing of musical talent (such as Johnny Mathis) and his developing of hit songs (including “I Believe”). He talked about providing the song “Let Me Go Lover” to the CBS drama anthology series Studio One, which became an instant hit record for unknown Joan Weber. He briefly talked about his own hit record in “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” He talked about getting his first exposure with sing along songs on television with the special Startime: “Sing Along with Mitch.” Miller then spoke in great detail about his famed 1960s television series resulting from this special, Sing Along with Mitch.