Remembering past bandleaders, musicians, arrangers and ballroom operators.
Claude Thornhill Dies; Made Name In Big Band Era
Caldwell, N.J. (UPI) - Bandleader Claude Thornhill, whose syncopated rhythms set toes tapping across the country at the height of the big band era in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, died Thursday at his home here. He was 55.
The famed pianist, who played with Artie Shaw, Paul Whiteman, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, was stricken by two heart attacks within an hour.
Calwell police and a doctor rushed to the home of the stricken band leader and revived him after the first heart attack at 12:50 a.m. But he suffered a second attack at 1:30 a.m.
"I've never seen people fight so hard to hold onto somebody," said his wife, former actress Ruth Cameron.
Thornhill was born in Terre Haute, Ind., and entered the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at the age of 16. That same year and clarinetist Artie Shaw started their careers at the Golden Pheasant in Cleveland with the Austin Wiley orchestra.
Thornhill and Shaw went to New York together in 1931. During the 1930's Thornhill played with the first Benny Goodman band, the first Ray Noble band and was associated with Glenn Miller.
He also recorded and arranged with Andre Kostelanitz and played for Whiteman.
[Source: Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), dated July 2, 1965]
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