Mitchell - Born in L.A.
Began the intensive study of piano at age four and started pipe
organ instructions at ten. From
1924 to 1928 he accompanied silent films on the Wurlitzer pipe organ
starting when he was twelve. At
thirteen he sang in the St. Matthias boy's and men's choir.
When "talkies" replaced silents, he played pipe organs in
churches, also training choirboys. At
eighteen, Mitchell was the youngest to be named "Fellow of the
American Guild of Organists", (F.A.G.O.), the highest degree awarded
organists in the United States by regular examination.
1932 in Rochester, New York, he studied at the Eastman School of Music on
a piano scholarship. In 1933,
he moved to New York City where he continued his study with a scholarship
at the New York College of Music, was substitute organist in churches,
played piano and sang on radio WNYC and did nightly stints at Joe's
Chateau, a popular speakeasy in Manhattan to supplement his income.
He returned to Los Angeles and in 1934 he
founded "The Mitchell Choirboys", famed for some one hundred
motion picture performances - most notably Academy Award winning
"Going My Way" and "Forty Boys and a Song", Academy
Award nominated 'short' about his world-famous choirboys (in which he also
appeared) plus thousands of radio and television broadcasts.
After a tour of duty in the Pacific with the
Naval Reserve during World War II, he returned to the music scene in Los
Angeles as a very busy musician, with his choir and even found the time to
be an honor student at Cal State L.A., receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree
in Music Education.
Mitchell was staff pianist-organist on KMTR,
KEHE, KHJ, KFI-KECA. You may
also remember seeing and/or hearing him in the early days of TV on Ladies'
Day, Parlor Party, Engineer Bill, the Jack LaLanne Show, and Art
Linkletter's House Party. His
many accomplishments have been spotlighted on KNBC, KABC, KCAL and KCET
television, and on Ralph Edwards' "This Is Your Life".
In 1962, when the new baseball stadium at
Chavez Ravine opened for all the Dodger and Angel games, he was chosen as
organist - making him the only 'player' in baseball ever to play for both
major leagues at the same time.
Mitchell was called a few years ago to play
organ accompaniments at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood, where (even
at 90) he is now heard several times a month.
Because he began pipe organ so young, it is possible that he is the
last living active theater organist.
Besides the aforementioned "Forty Boys
and a Song" (Warner Bros.), his other screen appearances include
"The Demi-bride" (MGM), "College Scandal" (Paramount), "Blondie in
Society" (Columbia), "The
Thornbirds" (Feature for Television),
and "All Night Long" (Universal).
A member of the Study of a Thousand
Gifted California Children by Dr. Lewis Terman of Stanford University.
A Silver Medal personally awarded at the
Royal Palace in Monte Carlo by Prince Ranier and Princess Grace of Monaco.
The Silver Beaver Medal, the highest honor
awarded scoutmasters by the Boy Scouts of America.
Acclaimed a Knight of Malta with a medal from
the American Melkite Archimandrate.
An Honorary Tile Plaque in the Amphitheater
of Temple Ahavat Shalom, Northridge, California.
Received the "Pro Papa et Ecclesia"
Certificate from Pope John-Paul the Second.