The REAL Eddy Duchin Story   36 comments

Although his orchestra was enormously popular in its day, Eddy Duchin would probably not be a recognizable name to most current music fans except for one thing. A few years after his death, Hollywood star Tyrone Power portrayed him in The Eddy Duchin Story, a very colorful tale of his life that even today occasionally shows up on TV.

Like most Hollywood efforts the movie was often inventive, but it did get the big stuff right. Born and raised in the Boston area, Duchin had trained as a pharmacist but moved to New York in the early 1930s, determined to become a professional musician. Although he lacked a classical music education and was a long way from being a piano virtuoso, he managed to catch on and begin his rise up the ranks.

Along the way, he became a darling of the society crowd and even married into it, in the person of socialite Marjorie Oelrichs (played by Kim Novak in the movie). Tragically, she died shortly after giving birth to the couples’ son in 1937. Duchin himself was also destined for a short life, dying from leukemia at just age 40 in 1951. (Ironically, Tyrone Power would also die young — at age 44 — just a couple of years after making the movie.)

Although Duchin did find a certain measure of success during his short lifetime, his strongest legacy might have been his son, Peter Duchin, who would go on to a good career of his own as a musician and writer.

One interesting tune that — not surprisingly — didn’t make the movie soundtrack was “Ol’ Man Mose,” a song the band recorded in 1938 with a vocal by Patricia Norman. Some listeners thought the singer slipped in a very naughty word when she was singing about Mose’s ‘bucket’. Whether it was true or just a trick of the ear didn’t seem to matter. The record ended up being banned in some areas, but was one of the band’s biggest sellers.

Eddy Duchin Orchestra w/ Patricia Norman – “Ol’ Man Mose”

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36 responses to “The REAL Eddy Duchin Story

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  1. I remember this man from playing in Sun Valley Idaho t the lofge.Great music

  2. I have just been on this site and am trying to locate family members of the Duchin family, I am related to them. My grandmother was a Duchin her name was Rebecca Duchin and they were first cousins. My Aunt Jenny Abram who had the same name as my mother when she married was lucky enough to meet the Duchin family when she used to travel to the USA many years ago. Unfortunately they have both passed away. I am trying to trace and do my family tree and any information I can retrieve from my mothers side of the family would be very interesting. I hope you can help me with my quest.

  3. This is a reply to Barbara Cohen. I just stumbled across this website today, and your comment was interesting to me. My grandfather and Eddy Duchin’s father were brothers. My grandfather was Simon Duchin (but called Shimon or sometimes “Sam”, although another brother was actually named Samuel). Where do you live, and is there some way of contacting you.

    • Hello Sheldon.
      My maiden name is Duchin and my grandfather Zalman (Solomon) Duchin had a brother Sam. As far as I know my grandfather and Eddy Duchin’s father were brothers.

  4. Hi Sheldon I live in England and my family lived in the Edgware/Middlesex area My cousin is a Leon Abram whose mother Jenny Abram the same name as my mother My aunt traced Eddy Duchin on a trip to America many years ago I am not sure how you can contact me but my address in England is 5 Oleastor Court Stoneleigh Road Ilford Essex IG5 0JX my telephone number is mobile 07956914856 hope you get this and it is released.

  5. This is a reply to Enid Jackowitz. I have noted your response and would advise that I live in England where some of the family fled when they left Russia. My grandmother Rebecca’s maiden name was Duchin and she had a sister but I am not sure of her first name. My grandmother had three children, my mum, an Uncle who died very young and my aunt who will be 90 in May. My grandmothers sister had one boy and six girls all of them I am afraid to say have died. The only one alive is my aunt Hannah my mums sister. I am not sure whether you can obtain my email from this site but when I got in touch with Sheldon he is a dentist and did work at Gental Dental Associates If you can get me your address or call Sheldon Duchin he will be able to give you my address in England I have tried to get information from my grandmothers sisters family but to date have not heard from them. My email address is babscohen@hotmail.co.uk Hope you get this and can reply to me or find out Sheldon Duchin’s email which is theduchins@comcast.net Kind regards Barbara Cohen nee Abram

  6. Please notify me of any replies to these comments. Thank you

  7. Hi:
    I am not related to Eddy Duchin but have been a big fan many years and genealogy is my main hobby so I am doing as much of the Duchin family genealogy as I can find. I have found 3 children for Samuel H. Ducin/Clara Bylow born in Ukraine. (1)Simon-Salomon, no spouse, (2)Samuel 1878-1939 married Eather 1878-1961 (no last name) 5 children, Lillian married a Locke, Maurice married Rose, 2 children one married Lewis Lipsitt, Max and Isadore, no spouses, Rose married Phillip Lipkin, their child married Robert Ellsworth. (3)Frank/Tillie Baron, Eddy’s parents. Have all Oelrichs ancestry. Would like to hear from everyone how they connect to share . Don Boudreaux Lafayette, La.

  8. Hello,

    I’ve heard through my family that the Duchins were cousins of my grandmother. My guess is that Eddy Duchin’s father may have had a brother that married a sister of my great grandfather, Max Orocofsky. Anyone know of a connection with the Orocofsky name? I know that Max Orocofsky came from somewhere in Ukraine, but unsure exactly where. Where in Ukraine did the Duchins come from?

    Thanks,
    Shadde

    Shadde Rosenblum
  9. I’m also trying to research my husband’s genealogy. His great-grandfather (Abraham ‘Abie’ Duchin) served in the Russian calvary. Abraham and his wife (Lena) fled Russia (Chernigov) at beginning of the communist takeover…and settled in NYC. Abie’s son, Isadore ‘Dick’ Duchin was a cousin of some degree ? to singer Eddie Duchin. I’m very interested in ANY info on Duchin genealogy, if anyone can offer information, that would be great!

    • My father Henry (Gedalya) Kadushin came from Chernigov – I just saw The Eddie Duchin Story movie tonight and it jogged me to remember a family rumor about relating to the Duchins. I have done a little research and have found many Abrahams in the lineage back to Napoleonic days. Have you come across any Kadushins in your genealogy research?

  10. My Dad – also named Ed – says he was in Sonar school with Eddy. According to my father, in WWII the Navy sent anybody with musical training (Dad was a guitarist) to sonar class because they could distinguish tones more clearly.

  11. Don, I can add some information to the genealogy. Samuel Duchin married Esther (not Eather) whose last name was Dickson. Esther was my great aunt and my grandmother’s (Lena) sister. I fondly remember her as “auntie Tully”. Samuel and Esther did have 5 children. As you know Lillian married (Philip) Locke. They had 2 sons, Merle and Mandell (who was always called “brother”). Maurice married Rose Brill and had 2 daughters, Edna and Grace. Mathew married Henrietta Kladky and had 2 daughters. Barbara and Susan. Ralph married Evelyn Bloom. Rose (who I fondly remember as “Toots”) married Philip Lipkin. They had 2 children (not 1), my cousins Cynthia and Arthur. My aunt Esther (we never called her that – it was always “Tully”) and grandmother Lena (my mother’s mother who died before she was married) are 2 of the 6 children of William and Ida Dickson (3 girls and 3 boys). (The 3rd girl was Bessie and the 3 boys were Ellis, Harry and Percy). My great uncle Ellis married Ethel Marcus. They had 3 children: Ruth, Lillian and Harry. Perhaps you’ve heard of Harry. His full name was Harry Ellis Dickson and at one point, was first violin and the assistant conductor of the Boston Pops in the days of Arthur Fiedler. He died only a few years ago. I can remember my mother telling stories of how close the Dickson and Duchin families were when she was a child and how Eddy would play the piano in her house when they were kids.

    Fred Greenberg
    • Just saw this thread and wanted to say hello. My name is Rob Shain, and Harry Dickson was my grandfather. I never connected with the Duchen family anyone until a few years ago when I reached out to Peter. Ten years ago this month we lost an amazing man, and I’m thrilled that his legacy still lives on..

  12. I just found this site. I’m related through the Lipkin family and have been a crazy genealogist for many years, I have much data online about the Duchin family at Wikitree.com and will be glad to have Wikitree send you an invitation to join (it’s free), if interested. I would like your input as to the accuracy of my data and would welcome additional information. Several Duchin relatives are already helping.

    Paula Agranat Hurwitz
    • I am interested in learning more about the Duchin family and would wlcome to join wikitree . Regards from a “relative in England

      • Barbara, Send me your e-mail address as that is how Wikitree’s invitations are done. Also, if you are able, can you give me your direct line to a Duchin family member?

        Paula Agranat Hurwitz
        • Hi Paula. My email address is babscohen@hotmail.co.uk The only information I have as all my family who I could have asked are now deceased
          My mothers name was Jane born on 30th March 1908 to Louis Levan and Rebecca Levin formerly Duchin. My grandmother who i never met had a sister and she had 7 children 1 boy called Phillip and 6 girls Jenny, Rebecca, Lily and the other girls names for the moment I cannot remember I know my Aunty Jenny and her husband myer used to visit the states to see their daughter and they managed after many visits to meet Eddy Duchin.

    • Hi Paula,
      Sure, I’m interested in learning more from you and through Wikitree and will share whatever relevant info I have with you.

      • Hi Fred. To get an invite…Wiki needs your e-mail address. If you send it to me, I’ll be sure you get an invite. It’s not perfect, but it’s got a lot of good features and it’s free. Best way to reach me is exagranat@gmail.com If you give me your direct line to a Duchin, it’s the quickest way to do it. Regards. Paula

        Paula Agranat Hurwitz
  13. The film is one of my all-time favorites. I rate the musical number “Brazil”; one of the best musical numbers ever in the movies. Does anyone know was the real pianist in the film? My guess is it was the great Carman Cavallero.
    Robert Blair – Austin, Texas

  14. According to info on IMDB you’re partially right. Cavallero did some of it, but much of the soundtrack was actual recordings from Eddy himself.

    PS On a side note, this movie was featured on Turner Classic Movie channel yesterday and apparently that triggered some interest, because this post got almost 2,000 additional visits!

  15. According to Robert Osborne, host for TCM, Tyrone Power spent a great deal of time prior to filming learning to play the piano. Many of the shots you see in the movie are accurate as far as Power’s playing, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the musical numbers were overdubbed by Carmen Cavallero.

  16. I always watch and rate an actor’s ability to mimic playing an instrument. For instance, IMHO, Bing Crosby was one of the worst piano “players” in movies. (Still I love his films.) On the other end of the scale, Tyrone Power, whom I’m sure couldn’t play a lick of piano, or at least not well enough to play it on screen, nevertheless did a fabulous job of mimicking the playing of the music in the Eddie Duchin story. While I could tell he wasn’t actually playing, I have to admit I was dazzled by his finger work.

  17. My college roommate, Barbara Mallen, often told me about how her Dad played bass in Eddy Duchin’s band. I was always so fascinated . Cheers to Charlie Mallen who passed many years ago.
    Lynne Tatian Lynch

  18. Brilliant pianist. The music reminds me of an era long past, it gives me the best feeling of nostalgia. A bittersweet story I thoroughly enjoyed watching on TV.

  19. You mentioned the movie being on TV. It’s interesting that whenever it plays, this post receives a lot more attention. When it was shown last year it triggered almost 2,000 visits, and when the movie played this time another 2,700+ folks viewed this post.

    Welcome to those who are new visitors — you’ll find a lot of good stories on the GMC!

  20. On April 6 I saw the movie The Eddie Duchin story. I thought it was a very cool movie. And surprisingly I didn’t know that Tyrone Powell could play the piano. I love true life stories.

  21. During WW II, Duchin brought his destroyer into the Hawain Islands where my father was stationed. my father had been a speakeasy trumpet player and life long music fan. he and Duchin spent the evening together. one of the things that impressed my father was that Duchin was actually the skipper of that vessel and not just a touring musician. when he got back to the States after the war, my father bought one of the first lps, a recording of Duchin’s “Warsaw Concerto” a very moving piece that he played over and over, listening with his eyes shut.

  22. I loved Eddy Duchin’s music and Peter’s too. Does Peter have any children or other relatives to carry on their piano
    performng traditions?

  23. I moved to New York City in 1969 as a musician and by accident, became the Guitarist and vocalist with the PETER DUCHIN ORCHESTRA, one of my most enjoyable experiences in NYC. Peter is a wonderful man and a great talent and personality. The night before I went to work for him, I saw THE EDDY DUCHIN STORY on TV and thought, “I’m going to work for Peter, tomorrow night, WOW!!”. Stayed with him until I left NYC in the late 70s.

  24. The Eddy Duchin Story, 1956, with Tyrone Power, was on TCM this evening. I have seen it many times and will watch it over and over, because the music is so beautiful and nostalgic, and the story, real or part fantasy, is so heart wrenching and lovely, and sad too, for the real Eddy Duchin. Did he really marry a second time before he died (so young). He may not have had classical music training, but he certainly could play the great melodies of the 30’s and 40’s with style, making anyone want to get up and dance and sing along. I love the movie.

  25. I just watched the Eddy Duchin movie and it is a tear jerker. Of course, I had to check up on his real life and was sad and happy to learn all the tragic details of his famous career. Tyrone was an unexpected actor for this movie but did an excellent job although not the actual pianist. Are there grandchildren carrying on with the family musical talent?

    • My grandfather was Louis Levine who married Rebecca Duchin.
      They had three children hannah,jenny and Morry

      Rebecca Duchin had 3 sisters and 1brother. Sisters were hannah who had 7 children’ Bloomer children unknown and Means again children unknown
      Brothers name Frank surname Duchin.

      Hannah duchins children’ jenny,Annie,Becky,Millie,Philip,rose and lily

      ,

      Barbara Cohen daughter of jenny levine
  26. The Eddie Duchin Story is one of the saddest films; yet so enjoyable at the same time. Featuring such classic actors as Tyrone Power and Kim Novak who worked and looked so good together on film. If that wasn’t enough the Piano music was so nice and uplifting. After seeing this movie i had to go out an buy the soundtrack. I think now it is about 11 times i have seen it now. A great movie to bring the audiences attention to a great musician.

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