Oregon Movies, A to Z

Oregon Movies, A to Z header image 2

Phil Moore

June 3rd, 2012 by Anne Richardson · No Comments · Oregon arranger, Oregon composer, Oregon musician

In a way, I think being black has been very good for me. If I weren’t black, probably I would have become a studio music director, with a big house and pool, and never would have worked at CBS, NBC or at BBC ….Sure if I’d been white, I’d have had a real good position, and that would have been the end of it. But as it is, I’ve worked in every field except the circus. Phil Moore

When did Portland first get hip? Phil Moore was born and raised in the same theater & radio rich city which produced Mel Blanc.

When Moore was born in 1918, Mel Blanc was a ten year old kid, selling newspapers on downtown Portland streets and studying the violin. The presiding mayor, George Baker, owned and operated the Baker Stock Company, a theater troupe which traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest. Baker was big on theater and death on unions. He served four consecutive four year terms – 1917 to 1933.

By the time Phil Moore was ten, Mel Blanc was playing in Portland dance bands and performing on Portland radio. By the time Phil Moore was twenty, both men were in Hollywood.

Mel Blanc was at Warner Brothers. Phil Moore was at MGM.

Here’s what Phil was doing, as relayed in a 1974 interview in The Milwaukie Journal:

“Phil Moore’s fame as a vocal coach, as a Svengali to the stars, the man who brought Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner and Diahann Carroll out of their shells, has tended to obscure his achievements as the carrier of the first flag for blacks for screen composing on the West Coast, radio network composing on the East.

Back in the 1930’s, as a confident kid from Seattle (Ed note: Moore went to college in Seattle, but he was from Portland)  who was sure he had it made because he had worked in speakeasies for a steady $21 a week, Phil Moore came here to conquer the city. It was a very different Hollywood then, especially if you were black.

You were all but banished to the ghetto. No hotel or restaurant would admit you. After one credit in a shoestring all black movie (The Duke Is Tops, 1938, starring Lena Horne), Moore tried in vain to land an orchestrator job at MGM, but was thrown a crumb: they let him work as a rehearsal pianist.

…..(This) turned out to be another series of firsts: talent director for CBS radio, chief arranger for NBC radio, pianist-vocalist for the successful Phil Moore Four combo. “I was also the first black to produce records for several white companies on both coasts.”

The list of artists for whom Moore composed, conducted, arranged, coached, wrote special material or shaped entire acts is staggering: Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Pearl Bailey, Tallulah Bankhead, Roberta Peters, Bobby Short, Louis Armstrong, Perry Como.

Other artists Moore coached included Lena Horne, Ava Gardner, Dorothy Dandridge, Goldie Hawn and Mae West.

YouTube Preview Image

YouTube Preview Image

Share This:
  • Print
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • MySpace
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter

Tags: ···················

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment

Related Links:









Partner Links