"The velvet fog" was a professional singer at three, a radio personality at four, a published composer at 15, and a film actor at 18. Coming to Hollywood as a drummer in the Chico Marx Band, Mel Tormé made his film debut as a singing/dancing house servant in Higher and Higher (1943). While his celebrity status was assured with his oft-recorded ballad "The Christmas Song," Tormé remained a supporting actor throughout the 1940s in films like Junior Miss (1947) and Good News (1950). His dramatic ability was first tapped in the 1957 Playhouse 90 television drama, The Comedian, in which he played the jellyfish younger brother of dictatorial TV comic Mickey Rooney. Tormé then went on to play a villain in the inexpensive crime flick Girls Town (1957), before reverting to good guy and best friend assignments. Motion pictures have never really been Tormé's priority: he's been too busy writing songs, recording albums, and penning biographies of such contemporaries as Judy Garland and Buddy Rich. In the 1980s, Mel Tormé was a frequent guest star on the TV sitcom Night Court, an offshoot of the well-publicized fact that Tormé was the idol of that series star, Harry Anderson.
by Hal Erickson biography