Mitch Miller, long-time music producer and host of NBC’s Sing Along with Mitch, passed away on Saturday (July 31st) at the age of 99. Miller worked as an “artists and repertoire” (A&R) executive at Mercury Records and later Columbia Records, signing artists like Patti Page, Frankie Laine and Tony Bennett to the latter label. He was also a successful record producer and an accomplished oboist. In 1958, as Mitch Miller & the Gang, he released an album titled Sing Along with Mitch featuring songs like “That Old Gang of Mine” and “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” performed by an all-male orchestra. Printed lyrics were included for those who actually wanted to sing along with Mitch.
The popularity of this and later “sing along” albums led to a television series, also titled Sing Along with Mitch, which premiered in January of 1961 on NBC. As songs were performed, the lyrics were shown on the bottom of the screen and a bouncing ball allowed viewers to follow and sing along in the privacy of their own homes. Sing Along with Mitch ran until September of 1964; repeats were broadcast during the summer of 1966. Joining Miller on the show were, among others, Leslie Uggams, Sandy Stewart, and Diana Trask.
Miller was interview in July of 2004 by the Archive of American Television. Here’s the first portion of that interview: