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Isadore Nathaniel (Niel) PARKER

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PARKER, Isadore Nathaniel (I Niel) Born Worcester, MA on January 20, 1908. Died Feb. 4, 2011 in Los Angeles at the age of 103. Niel Parker had a long multifaceted and distinguished career. He started trumpet and cornet lessons at the age of eight, later studying with George Mager of the Boston Symphony. In high school he formed the Peskin Orchestra with his brother Charles, who played clarinet and saxophone. He met Jerry Colonna in 1922, played with him in Boston area orchestras, and then went with Colonna to New York where they performed in jam sessions at the Roseland with major musicians, including Bix Beiderbeck, and Tommy Dorsey. Over the course of his career Niel worked with many notable orchestras and bands such as Meyer Davis, Sam Lanin, Glenn Miller, the Dorsey Brothers, Joe Venuti, Eddy Duchin, Henry Busse, George Olson, Xavier Cugat, Benny Goodman, Irving Aaronson, Paul Whiteman, and Barney Sorkin, among others. He joined George Olson, touring in a variety of performances, including Ziegfield shows, clubs and theaters. Among his compositions are "Chinese Jumble" and "State and Madison Stomp" which were published by Denton & Haskins Co. and recorded on Edison Records. (Thomas Edison supervised the first recording.) He also made recordings for RCA and Gennet Records. At Columbia Records he did the first recording of "I can't give you anything but love" with Ruby Bloom and the Star of Blackbirds of 1928. In New York he worked on many radio shows, including Jack Renard's first Lucky Strike program, Jack Benny/Olsen, Eveready Program, and Eddie Cantor's Show on WABC, NBC, CBS and other stations. After coming to Los Angeles, he played for many studios, such as Columbia, RKO, United Artists and MGM. He worked under Georgie Stoll, Herbert Stothert, Franz Waxman, Alfred Newman, and others. He also wrote and arranged music for "Fox Movietone Follies of 1929" and appeared in scenes with comedian El Brendel. He coached Jackie Cooper for his role in "Man with a Horn" and did a six month tour with the Kate Smith Revue. In 1942 he toured with the Hollywood Caravan for Army-Navy Relief, following which he enlisted in the Army Air Forces. For about 3 1/2 years he organized music for his unit in the States and overseas and did programs for the Armed Forces Radio in Hawaii. After leaving the service he continued performing, with Red Skelton, Sinatra ("Old Gold"), Bergen/McCarthy, and others. He also attended Los Angeles State College where he earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts with High Honors and an M.A. in Vocational Counseling & Guidance and did graduate work at Harvard. He then taught in Culver City and Hawthorne schools for four years. After that he worked in the aerospace industry at Douglas Aircraft Co and Aerojet General Corp. all the while continuing his education taking courses related to aerospace. He was also proficient in several languages. On September 15, 1989, he received a Diamond Circle Award from the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters for his many distinguished years in radio and television. In 2003 he was interviewed by Jerry Fabris, Curator of the Edison National Historical Site in W. Orange, NJ, about his Edison recordings in the 1920s. The interviews were played on WFMU (91.1 FM) in Jersey City, NJ on Sept. 9th and 23rd, 2003 for the program Thomas Edison's Attic and can be heard on http://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/8964 The first program featured a piece composed by him in 1926 and published in 1928 under the name Irving Peskin, and recorded by the California Ramblers. Besides his music, he enjoyed many activities. He loved to fly, and held a California pilot's license. He was an avid golfer, and he enjoyed deep-sea fishing, traveling around the world, and reading. He loved all animals and found everyone he knew and met to be beautiful. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, brother, former wife Charlotte Marilyn Abelson and stepson Arthur Lance Aaron. He is survived by his longtime partner Hannah M. Walker, nephews Theodore and Robert Parker, Carl and Stuart Levin, niece Dorothy Parker, and several great nieces and nephews. A memorial service was held at Hillside Memorial Park, Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Anti-defamation League in memory of Irving Niel Parker.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Feb. 19 to Feb. 20, 2011
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