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.