George Blake

George Blake
George Blake

At age fourteen, George Blake (1912–1986) began to play the theater organ professionally at the Franklin Theatre in Nutley, New Jersey. His father having died when he was very young, Blake quickly became the primary supporter of his family through his performing, and he lived with his mother in New Jersey for many years until her death. His younger brother was the cartoonist Bud Blake (of the popular comic strip "Tiger.") A student and protégé of Lew White (organist of the original Roxy Theatre), George Blake served as principal organist for a number of theaters in New Jersey and New York City, including the New Roxy (later the Center Theatre) in Rockefeller Center. He was also a regular performer on several radio programs of the day, including the "Lucky Strike Hour." As the age of the cinema organist ended, Blake focused primarily on sacred music. During his cinema years, he was organist at several churches in New Jersey including St. Andrew's Episcopal (South Orange) and Grace Episcopal (Nutley) and was the school organist for Columbia High School (Maplewood). Blake composed and published extensively in both sacred and secular genres. He co‑wrote a number of popular songs with Richard Leibert, organist of Radio City Music Hall, several of which were performed and recorded by leading artists of the day, including Mario Lanza. For Lorenz Publishing Co., Blake wrote many original works and arrangements in the organ and choral genres.

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