Tonight Bandleader Skitch Henderson Dies
11/02/2005 AT 08:35 AM EST
Born in England, Lyle Russell Cedric Henderson moved to the United States in the 1930s, getting his big break in 1937, when he filled in for a sick pianist touring with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
After the tour wrapped, Henderson used the original pianist's ticket and went to Hollywood, where he joined the MGM music department and played piano for Bob Hope's radio show – which, in turn, led to his meeting Bing Crosby, who became Henderson's mentor.
When Tonight started in 1954, with host Steve Allen, Henderson led the band – a gig he continued for a time with the next host, Jack Paar. In 1983, Henderson founded the New York Pops.