Skitch Hendersen - The show business
sobriquet of the bearded Lyle Russell Cedric Henderson who was the
bandleader for THE TONIGHT SHOW starring Steve Allen from 1954-57
and THE TONIGHT SHOW starring Johnny Carson from 1962-66 on the NBC
Besides his TONIGHT SHOW gig as bandleader, Henderson was
also the musical director for Frank Sinatra, accompanist for Bing
Crosby, Bob Hope and Judy Garland and founder and leader of the New
York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York.
In 1983, Skitch founded the New York Pops. He later received the James Smithson
Bicentennial Medal from the Smithsonian Institution in recognition of his
contributions to American Culture.
A legacy of Henderson's works (The Skitch Henderson Collection) now resides
at the UW–Madison’s Mills Music Library at the University of Wisconsin.
Henderson claimed somewhere along the line he was dubbed "Skitch"
and it just stuck. Entertainment lore claims that Henderson earned
his nickname because of his ability to "sketch" out a score quickly.
People soon began to call him "the sketch kid," which singer Bing
Crosby urged him to shorten to "Skitch."
Born Lyle Russell Cedric Henderson on January 27, 1918 in Birmingham, England, noted composer, conductor, and
bandleader Skitch Henderson died of natural causes on November 1, 2005 in New
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