Mitchell Parish Put words to 'Star Dust'


April 02, 1993

NEW YORK -- Mitchell Parish, who put words to Hoagy Carmichael's "Star Dust" and watched it become the most-recorded song ever written, is dead at 92.

Mr. Parish set words to the tunes of some of the nation's greatest popular musicians, notably Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. Among the enduring standards he produced were "Deep Purple," "Moonlight Serenade," "Sophisticated Lady," "Don't Be That Way," and "Stars Fell On Alabama."

He died Wednesday night at New York Hospital, where he was admitted on March 14 after a stroke, said hospital spokeswoman Kathy Robinson. He also had cancer, she said.

Mr. Parish's best songs transcended changing times and styles.

His first success was "Sweet Lorraine," composed by Cliff Burwell in 1928. It was a hit when Rudy Vallee sang it to flappers and, three decades later, Nat King Cole made it a favorite of the Eisenhower years.

Among the smash versions of "Star Dust" was Willie Nelson's in 1978. When Mr. Nelson sang it at the Austin Opera House in Texas, he recalled, "there was a kind of stunned silence in the crowd for a moment, and then they exploded with cheering and whistling."

The country singer's rendition stayed on the charts more than 2 1/2 years. Artie Shaw's 1940 recording sold 2 million copies.

A Broadway revue, "Stardust," in 1987, paid tribute to Mr. Parish and more than 30 of his songs.

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