United States Boy Choirs: Robert Mitchell Boys' Choir

Figure 1.-- The Choir appeared in quite a number of films, including several important films. The first film we know of is "Blondie in society" (1941), an early film in the long-running Blondie series. They play a Boy Ranger troop.

Robert Mitchell's mother insisted that he learn the church oprgan so he cold participate in church services. This became a career making decesion. Soon 12-year old Robert was playing the pipe organ in movie theaters. Silent films needed the musical accompaniment. Throughout the 1930s he worked at various radio stations. After being appointed organist of St. Brendan's Catholic Church in Los Angeles, Mitchell organized a boy's choir(1934). The Choir was also known as the St. Brendan's Church Choir and Bob Mitchell's Singing Boys. He set up an actual school and recruited boys with good voices. There were boys from age 8-4 years at the school, mostly boys of moodest means. They had regular classes and then spent the rest of the day working on music. Warner Brothers did a short documentary, "40 Boys and a song" (1940). Located in Los Angeles, the Choir proved ideal for Hollywood producers wanting boys or a choral group in their films. The Choir or chour members was cast in over 100 films in the Holluwood Musical era from the mid-1930s through the 1960s. The first film we know of is "Blondie in society" (1941), an early film in the long-running Blondie series. They play a Boy Ranger troop. For some reason they were not a Boy Scout unit. This is a bit strahnge because Mitchell actually formed an actual Scout Troop and Cub Pack for the boys. They are show in "40 Boys and a Song" on a camping trip, all emacuately uniformed in the short pants uniform and knee socks. Notably the boys all wear long pants to school. The subsequent films we know of are: "Going my way" (1944) with Bing Crosby, "The Al Jolson story" (1946), “Angels with dirty faces” with James Cagney, and “The Bishop’s Wife". The Choir also made recorded with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra as well as other notable singers. They were in the Gene Kelly TV-series "Going my way" (1962-63) based on the award-winning film film. His works with the Choir earned him various honors including a Silver Medal from Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco, a Medal from the Pope, and an award from the Boy Scouts of America. After the 1960s, the Choir no mlonger was used much by Hollywood. The Choir made only three Hollywood film appearances after 1970. The final one was in 1981.


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Created: 1:58 PM 1/31/2008
Last updated: 5:15 AM 2/8/2011