Skitch Henderson, the first “Tonight Show” bandleader and founder of the New York Pops, died of natural causes November 1st at his New Milford, Conn., home.
Henderson, 87, was a Grammy-winning conductor who worked with stars including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
He was named bandleader for Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show” in 1954 and remained with the program into the Johnny Carson era.
Henderson founded the The New York Pops in 1983 and continued to work as its musical director and conductor until his death.
The virtuoso’s most recent recordings include a jazz album with Bucky Pizzarelli and a New York Pops album featuring Maureen McGovern.