Home » Uncategorized » Mahlon Merrick and the Look Sharp! March

Mahlon Merrick and the Look Sharp! March

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     Mahlon Merrick (January 28, 1900- August 7, 1969) was an American film score composer.  He was born on January 28, 1900 in Farmington, Van Buren County, IA.   The Merrick family moved to Centralia, WA, which Mahlon considered his hometown.  In 1923, Mahlon graduated from Washington State College (now Washington State University). After three years of teaching school music in Redmond, WA, he put aside teaching and began work as a professional saxophonist. By the end of the decade, he was in Los Angeles, CA, working as a radio orchestra musician.

In 1937, Merrick joined the staff of the Jack Benny Program. He went on at the same time Phil Harris was supposedly hired to be the “bandleader.”  While Harris was a musician, a decent drummer, and a wonderful singer, he was really hired by the show to be the comic relief. When the show was aired, the live studio audience would see Phil lead the band while Mahlon sat in the sax section.   Benny always admitted himself that he never actually hired Phil to be the bandleader.  Mahlon Merrick was hired for that job.  In the 1940s, Mahlon wrote his two most important compositions The Gillette Look Sharp March for NFL broadcasts and the Washington State College (University) Marching Song.  In 1945, he received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture with Sensations of 1944.

After the Jack Benny Program went off the air, Mahlon began to throw himself into television.  Known for his work on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950) and Red Planet Mars (1952), he later created a fake name for himself, Gene LeGrande, which would be seen on many TV shows in the 1950s and 1960s. Also he created some music for Hanna-Barbera cartoons as well as many other cartoons.  Working in Hollywood continually until his death, Mahlon Merrick died at age 69 on August 7, 1969, in Palm Springs, Riverside County, CA.

The following work by Mahlon Merrick is contained in my collection :

Look Sharp! March.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

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