These days, when a singer performs on a talk show, they almost always bring their own musical director, and often their own band, but during the Merv years between 1962 and 1986, musical stars depended on the house band to accompany their performances.
|Lindsey won an Emmy for his work as|
musical director for Streisand's A Happening
in Central Park.
Mort was considered one of the very best, and could arrange champagne music for Lawrence Welk, Broadway showtunes for Ethel Merman, country sing-a-longs for Dolly Parton, and R&B songs for Freda Payne.
|Mort put Judy at ease, allowing her to give|
dynamic concert performances.
Lindsey knew how to put the biggest musical stars at ease, and he was in demand as a free-lance musical director, in addition to his work with Merv Griffin. Pat Boone, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, and Liza Minnelli all used him on various television and concert endeavors.
|Not only did Mort Lindsey work with Barbra Streisand, he also worked with Jim Bailey impersonating Barbra Streisand.|
|Judy at Carnegie Hall|
Unexpectedly, Judy showed up to an orchestra rehearsal, and was impressed enough with Lindsey's work that he was hired to music direct the full tour. The climax of the tour was Garland's celebrated debut at Carnegie Hall, an evening which is considered one of the great show business comebacks.
Mort Lindsey was to be Garland's musical director for the rest of her career. He became an intimate friend and collaborator, and even co-wrote (with Johnny Mercer) the song "Lorna," in honor of Judy's daughter.
|Bugs Bunny's Chuck Jones|
broke his Warner Bros contract
to direct this stylish film. Mort
arranged the Harold Arlen score.
He arranged the music on her one and only animated film, Gay Purr-ee, and when she moved to television for her own variety series, she took him with her. It is from that series that this week's Dance Party is plucked.
|In 1968, Garland gave one of her final TV appearances on Merv Griffin's show. She was wracked with fright, but was persuaded by the fact that her longtime collaborator Mort Lindsey was leading the band.|