Despite Glenn Miller’s relatively short career, he was the biggest thing in Big Bands since Benny Goodman’s ensemble burst upon the music scene in 1935. His death at the age of 40 in the winter of 1944 is still a mystery, never having been fully explained.
Like contemporary Harry James, he dared to step in front of cameras in Hollywood productions, and got stellar billing. Like Goodman, he is the subject of a full fledged, big-studio-backed movie biography with a major star in the leading role. (Goodman and Miller had another thing in common — both wore glasses.)
Glenn Miller was perhaps mid-20th century’s most popular big bandleader. His ensemble racked up 31 Top Ten hits in 1940, and 11 each year in 1941 and 1942. He was deeply patriotic, and died in the cause of bringing his music to the troops fighting in the European Theater of World War II.
The Miller ensemble was prominent in two Twentieth Century Fox features in 1941 and 1942: Sun Valley Serenade, a studio all-star vehicle; and Orchestra Wives. The former introduced such Miller band signatures as I Know Why and Chattanooga Choo Choo, while the latter ushered in I’ve Got A Gal In Kalamazoo and American Patrol.
Ok, let’s get to today’s Glenn Miller Quiz. Here we go:
1) Question: Which of these titles served as the theme song for the Glenn Miller Orchestra? a) Son of the Volga Boatman; b) The Man With The Mandolin; c) Sun Valley Jump; or d) Moonlight Serenade.
2) Question: What specifically were the circumstances of Miller’s death in 1944? a) As Major Miller, he was killed in combat in the Battle of the Bulge; b) He was found dead in a Paris brothel; c) He suffered an aneuryism while playing his trombone; or d) He disappeared in a plane crash flying from England to Paris.
3) Question: James Stewart superbly played Miller in 1954’s The Glenn Miller Story. But who played Miller’s devoted wife, Helen Burger? a) Gloria Grahame; b) June Allyson; c) Donna Reed; or d) Irene Dunne.
4) Question: Which one of the following did NOT appear in a movie with Glenn Miller? a) Cesar Romero; b) Dorothy Dandridge; c) Sig Ruman; or d) Milton Berle.
5) Question: What was the instrumental secret to the distinctive Glenn Miller Orchestra sound? a) A brass section playing fortissimo; b) Distinctive band vocalists; c) A reed section voicing of a clarinet playing over four saxophones; d) Miller’s proficient trombone solos.