Lyricist Mitchell Parish came to New York from Shreveport, Louisiana, at an early age. He received his education in the public schools, then Columbia and N.Y.U. (Phi Beta Kappa). He eventually abandoned the notion of practicing law to become a songwriter.
He served his apprenticeship as a writer of special material for vaudeville acts, and later established himself as a writer of songs for stage, screen and numerous musical revues. In one of these, “Cotton Club,” the young Lena Home emerged from the chorus on her way to becoming a star.
The romantic quality of many of his lyrics “Stardust,” “Stairway to the Stars,” “Deep Purple,” “The Lamp is Low,” “One Morning in May,” “Moonlight Serenade” has contributed to his being regarded by some as the poet laureate of the profession.
A few of the titles on the extensive list of his hit songs indicate a formidable versatility in his writing? “Sweet Lorraine,” “Stars Fell on Alabama,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Sleighride,” “Sentimental Gentleman From Georgia,” “Sidewalks of Cuba,” “Volare,” “Riverboat Shuffle,” “Ruby,” “Hands Across The Table,” “Don’t Be That Way.”
Among his many collaborators are Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Peter De Rose, Leroy Anderson, Glenn Miller, Sammy Fain, Frank Perkins, Will Hudson, Benny Goodman, Edgar Sampson, Raymond Scott.
Mitchell Parish was also the author of a book of verse, “For Those in Love,” and performed his songs and lectured at theaters and universities across the country and in Canada, as well as at the “Lyrics and Lyricists” series of the 92nd Street “Y.” He was a member of the Writers Advisory Council of ASCAP, and was one of the first inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1972).