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Lawrence Tibbett
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    (November 16, 1896-July 15, 1960)
    Born in Bakersfield, California
    Birth name was Lawrence Mervil Tibbet
    Sang lead with the New York Metropolitan Opera more than 600 times (1923-50)
    Notable roles included Tonio in ‘Pagliacci,’ Ford in ‘Falstaff,’ Iago in ‘Otello,’ Escamillo in ‘Carmen,’ Germont in ‘La Traviata’ and Scarpia in ‘Tosca’
    Appeared in the films ‘The Rogue Song’ (1930), ‘New Moon’ (1930), ‘The Cuban Love Song’ (1931), ‘Metropolitan’ (1935) and ‘Under Your Spell’ (1936)
    Appeared on Broadway in ‘The Man Who Came to Dinner’ (1939-41) and ‘Fanny’ (1954-56)
    He added an extra ‘t’ to his last name for no apparent reason.
    He appeared in blackface in an opera based on Eugene O’Neill’s ‘The Emperor Jones.’
    During rehearsals of the opera ‘Caponsacchi,’ he accidentally stabbed Joseph Sterzini in the hand with a prop dagger; Sterzini died of complications from surgery to repair the resulting gash (1937).
    In the 1940s, his voice deteriorated, partly due to heavy drinking.
    He died in a drunken fall in his apartment, slipping on a rug and hitting his head against a TV set.
    He was six when his father, a deputy sheriff, was killed by a bandit.
    He was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor for his film debut in ‘The Rogue Song.’
    In its prime, his voice was powerful and remarkably flexible.
    He was the first singer to receive the gold medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1933).
    Accused of hamminess in his performances, he replied ‘The school of understatement is no more real than the school of overstatement. They are simply different sets of conventions.’
    Unlike many opera singers, who tend to be built like Pavarotti, he was described as having a ‘manly chest and Greek torso.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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