Truly, it’s almost impossible to swing a… trombone… without hitting one of Miller’s classic hits — “Moonlight Serenade,” “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “(I’ve Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo,” “Little Brown Jug” — and perhaps his most well-known and loved, “In the Mood.”
At the height of his musical success, in 1942, Miller felt it was his duty to help with the US effort in WWII. Too old to be drafted, at the age of 38, he was accepted into the Army and went on to create, in his words, “a modernized Army band.”
He eventually went on to give over 800 performances in England by the summer of 1944, and even went so far as to make recordings in German to be used as anti-Nazi propaganda.
Sadly, while not a combatant, Miller would be claimed by his desire to serve his country.
On December 15, 1944, Miller departed on a US Army Air Force UC-64 plane, to fly from the UK to Paris to play for soldiers there. The plane disappeared over the English Channel, and no trace of the plane, crew, or Miller was ever found.
Alton Glenn Miller was gone at the peak of his musical genius, at only 40 years of age.
While Miller himself disappeared, his music has done rather the opposite — reaching and speaking to generations well beyond his death, more than 70 years later. – AJW
Glenn Miller missing on air trip to Paris (1944)
Major Glenn Miller, director of the US Air Force band and a former orchestra leader, is missing on a flight from England to Paris, it was announced today.
Miller, one of the outstanding orchestra leaders of the United States, left England December 15 as a passenger aboard a plane. No trace of the plane has been found since.
His Air Force band had been playing in Paris. No members of the band were with him on the plane.
Major Miller’s wife lives at Tenafly, New Jersey, with a three-month-old adopted daughter and a two-year-old-adopted son.
The band leader, famed as a trombonist, was sworn into the Army as a captain on Sept. 10, 1942, and had been in England about a year. He was head of the “American Flying Band of the Supreme Allied Command.”
In civilian life, Miller was the biggest money-maker in the dance band business, grossing some $1,500,000 a year.
In a letter he wrote to his wife on December 14, he said he planned to leave for France the next day — the day he was reported missing, according to the War Department notification received by Mrs. Miller.
Glenn Miller: In the Mood
The video below features a high-quality recording of “In the Mood,” and the picture shows Jimmy Stewart as Glenn in the 1953 movie The Glenn Miller Story.