The illustrationfriday.com challenge word this week is “foggy”.
Let me start off by stating that although this story ultimately ends with THIS, it is not the same type of celebrity story found elsewhere on this blog.
Mel Tormé was most famous for his beautifully mellow voice, but he accomplished so much in his career.
He was an actor in radio serials.
He wrote over 250 songs.
He was an accomplished drummer, playing drums in a big band led by Chico Marx. Mel befriended drummer Buddy Rich and eventually wrote a book about him. Mel also owned a drumset that drummer Gene Krupa had used for many years and he played this drumset at the 1979 Chicago Jazz Festival with Benny Goodman on the classic “Sing, Sing, Sing”.
He helped pioneer cool jazz.
He wrote songs and musical arrangements for the The Judy Garland Show. He later had a falling out with Garland and wrote a very unflattering book about her and his experiences with her show.
He was a licensed pilot.
He appeared in nine episodes of Night Court and one episode of Seinfeld.
He disliked rock and roll music, calling it “three-chord manure”, although he recorded a guest vocal with Was (Not Was) in 1983.
And Mel hated the nickname “The Velvet Fog”.
Mel Tormé’s career spanned seven decades and there was no denying his diverse talent. However, the inspiration for this illustration was a beautiful and touching story that I came across on povonline.com, the website of Mark Evanier (a very talented guy in his own right!). Mark wrote about his “almost encounter” with Mel at the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market. I urge you to read Mark’s story HERE. It is perfect.
Mr. Evanier even gave me a mention in the “News From Me” section of his website HERE.
This drawing was created entirely onsite at the 2008 WXPN XPoNential Music Festival.
Mel Tormé was also an avid collector of pulps and Big Little Books, as I discovered when I gave him a tour of DC Comics. My late friend Jack Deveny helped Tormé complete his collection of G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES.
What a great story and a great illustration!!! Excellent.
You left out the single most memorable thing, at least to me, that Torme ever did. He played Mickey Rooney’s tormented brother/servant in the live television broadcast of “The Comedian” back around ’57. Directed by Frankenheimer, it’s the most powerful example of live televised drama I’ve ever seen and contains one of the greatest performances ever recorded on film: an electrifying Rooney as the sadistic, deranged comedian. (This isn’t your grandfather’s Andy Hardy.) It’s available for viewing at the Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio) in New York City and Los Angeles. Seek it out and gird yourself for an unforgettable experience.
Now when I look at the Illustration Friday topic and don’t have the chance to illustrate it myself, my first thought is “Just how is Josh Pincus going to handle this one?” Excellent as always. And I like the table’s wood grain on this one.
Grew up with this name! Wonderful, appealing drawing.
Excellent Josh! I always learn a little something extra from your posts.
And, I can’t say I blame him for not liking the Velvet Fog nickname!