Jazz trumpeter William Dillard, who also sang in several Broadway shows, died Jan. 16 in Manhattan of complications from lupus and pneumonia. He was 83.
Taking up the trumpet at the age of 12, Dillard worked with many of the most notable swing bands of the 1930s and ’40s. He played under such greats as Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Lucky Millinder, Benny Carter and Jelly Roll Morton. He was a mentor to many young musicians who went on to find fame – Dizzy Gillespie among them. He made his Broadway debut in “Carmen Jones” in 1943.
Television credits included soap opera “Love of Life,” on which Dillard played Joe the Bartender, and the role of the King of Babylon on “Green Pastures.”
He is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter.