Celebrated lyricist penned Tin Pan Alley hits and unmatched string of pop standards
Gave words to "Deep Purple" and "Sophisticated Lady"
Lyricist Mitchell Parish was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on July 10, 1900. His family moved to New York City when Parish was a young boy and 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.
In 1919, Parish was hired as a staff writer for music publishers on Tin Pan Alley and began an apprenticeship as a writer of special material for vaudeville acts. He later established himself as a writer of songs for stage, screen and numerous musical revues.
Parish contributed songs to several stage productions including Cotton Club Parade (1934), Earl Carroll Vanities of 1940 and Icecapades of 1941. However, his focus was mainly on the popular song. The romantic quality of many of his lyrics-"Stardust," "Stairway to the Stars," "Deep Purple," "The Lamp is Low”, "One Morning in May," and “Moonlight Serenade” - have contributed to his being regarded by some as the poet laureate of the songwriting profession.
A few of the titles in the Parish catalog 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" and "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.
Parish is 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 an active member and Director of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1986, Parish was also the recipient of the coveted Johnny Mercer Award for his prolific catalog of hits.
Mitchell Parish died in New York City at the age of 92 on March 31, 1993.