Skitch Henderson

Pianist + Bandleader + Composer
Born Jan 27, 1918

Lyle Russell Cedric “Skitch” Henderson was a pianist, conductor, and composer. His nickname ("Skitch") reportedly derived from his ability to quickly "re-sketch" a song in a different key.

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Browse recent news and stories about Skitch Henderson.


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Skitch Henderson.


1918 Birth Born on January 27, 1918.


1937 19 Years Old After starting his professional career in the 1930s playing piano in the roadhouses of the American Midwest, Henderson's major break came when he was an accompanist on a 1937 MGM promotional tour featuring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. … Read More


1940 22 Years Old Blue Network Varieties, which began May 20, 1940, on NBC's Pacific Blue network, featured Henderson in charge of the music, leading "a novelty instrumental group." … Read More
1946 28 Years Old In 1946, Henderson and the Golden Gate Quartet headlined a 13-week summer replacement program on NBC, sponsored by Old Gold cigarettes.


1950 32 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1950, Henderson had a disc jockey program on WNBC in New York City. … Read More


1958 40 Years Old He then married Ruth Einsiedel in 1958 and raised two children, Hans and Heidi. Hans was married to Sandra Watson for 18 years, before divorcing in 2000. Heidi was married to actor William Hurt from 1989 to 1992, and they have two sons. … Read More
1963 45 Years Old He conducted a 1963 recording for RCA of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess with Leontyne Price and William Warfield, which won a Grammy.


1974 56 Years Old He was indicted on July 2, 1974, on charges of tax evasion for the years of 1969 and 1970 for claims about the value (allegedly $350,000) of a music library he donated to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. … Read More
1975 57 Years Old 1 More Event
Henderson was sentenced on January 17, 1975 to 6 months in prison and fined $10,000.


1983 65 Years Old In 1983, he founded The New York Pops orchestra, which makes its home at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
2003 85 Years Old In 2003 Ruth and Skitch Henderson co-founded the Hunt Hill Farm Trust, an effort to preserve their farm's land and buildings and to celebrate Americana in music, art and literature through the creation of a living museum.
2005 87 Years Old 1 More Event
An affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution resulted in the Trust's inaugural exhibit: Skitch Henderson: A Man and His Music. On January 29, 2005, the Smithsonian awarded him the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in recognition of his contributions to American culture. … Read More
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