Teacher, composer and vocal coach Maurice Finnell, who taught talent including Tony Bennett, Bette Midler, Tyne Daly and Warren Beatty, died Jan. 5 in New York from complications from a fall. He was 93.
Finnell was born in New Jersey, and started singing as a boy, performing the theme song for Douglas Fairbanks film “Reaching For The Moon” at the RKO Lincoln and Capital Theaters at the age of 16.
He performed on radio networks in New York and Philadelphia, and made his opera debut with the Trenton Opera Company in 1941. During WWII he served as a music instructor for soldiers. After the war, his song “A Lonely Town” was recorded by Herb Lance and the Ray Charles Singers and he directed the musical department of Camp Wigwam in Harrison, Maine, which was attended by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, the Selznicks and the Zukors.
He began teaching in 1947 and continued until the time of his death, teaching sight-reading and musicianship at the American Theatre Wing, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, NYU, The Vocal Arts Foundation and the Turtle Bay Music School, as well as at the Metropolitan Opera House, Carnegie Hall, and the Ansonia Hotel.
He is survived by a daughter, a son and two grandchildren.