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Paul Whiteman

Orchestra Leader, Music Director, Radio Personality, TV Personality

(1890 - 1967)

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Paul Whiteman led the most popular band throughout the 1920’s and was given the moniker, “The King of Jazz,” in 1923, although that title is generally disputed. It must be said, however, that at the time, when the fox trot was coming into vogue, the dance was equated with jazz, and Whiteman capitalized on it by appending the two words to many of the tunes he recorded. Furthermore, he often hired some of the finest jazz musicians for his orchestra such as Bix Beiderbecke, Bunny Berigan, Joe Venuti, and Frank Trumbauer. And Whiteman gave Bing Crosby his start.

Whiteman made his first recording in 1920 and was hugely successful with “Whispering” and “Japanese Sandman.” The appeal of the orchestra was in its fresh instrumentation and its size—nine musicians were unusual for bands of the time. He was forward thinking when it came to the music as well, being the one who introduced both “Body and Soul” and “How Deep Is the Ocean.” Perhaps, most importantly, Whiteman was the first to use and credit arrangers, foremost among them Ferdi Grofe, who played a work, later to become “Grand Canyon Suite,” commissioned by Whiteman for his wedding ceremony in 1931.

This was not Whiteman’s first commissioned work. In 1924 he presented George Gershwin performing “Rhapsody in Blue” in a landmark concert in New York. Whiteman was also a star of radio and the subject of a film, The King of Jazz (1930). Although his style began to lose favor in the ‘30s, he continued to guest conduct, had his own television show, and served as music director of ABC.

- Sandra Burlingame

Gershwin & Grofe'

Paul Whiteman

Bix 'N' Bing

Bix Beiderbecke, Bing Crosby

Say It with Music

Paul Whiteman

The King of Jazz

Paul Whiteman
Reading and Viewing

At Amazon.com you can often buy used for a fraction of the new price

Joshua Berrett

Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman : Two Kings of Jazz

Yale University Press

Don Rayno

Paul Whiteman: Pioneer in American Music, Volume I: 1890-1930

Scarecrow Press

Thomas A. Delong

Pops: Paul Whiteman, King of Jazz

New Win Publishing

Tommy Dorsey; Jimmy Dorsey; Janet Blair; Paul Whiteman

Fabulous Dorseys

Reel Enterprises


The Paul Whiteman Orchestra including Bing Crosby and the Rhythm Boys

The King of Jazz (1930)


Ginger Rogers, Arnold Schoenberg, Paul Whiteman, Clarke Peters, Virgil Thomson

George Gershwin Remembered (An American Masters Program)

A&E Home Video


Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Paul Whiteman and Orchestra, June Preisser, William Tracy

Strike Up the Band

MGM (Video & DVD)


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