College of Music

University of Colorado Boulder

The Glenn Miller Archive Gordon Dooley Collection

March 4, 2014

Gordon Dooley (2012, Denver Post)


The Glenn Miller Archive (GMA) of the American Music Research Center is pleased to announce the completion of the Gordon Dooley Collection.

Beloved Colorado bandleader and musician Gordon Dooley passed away at the age of 92 October 28, 2013. Gordon was a good friend and advisor of the GMA who was a special guest on a five-hour November 2009 Glenn Miller broadcast on KEZW, Denver “Breakfast Club” broadcast from the CU Heritage Center. Gordon had previously entrusted much of his professional memorabilia to the GMA. March 3, 2014, Gordon’s close friend and fellow bandleader Dean Bushnell and AMRC Advisory Board Member Juli Steinhauer presented additional professional and personal memorabilia to the GMA to complete the Gordon Dooley Collection.

Gordon Dooley was born September 10, 1921, in Yonkers, N.Y. He organized his first musical group, a dance band, in junior high school, an ensemble that included Sid Caesar on alto sax. Caesar would go on to gain fame as a comedian and co-star of Your Show of Shows. Sid Caesar passed away February 12, 2014.

After graduating from high school, Dooley went on the road with the McFarland Twins Orchestra until he joined the Army Air Forces (AAF) and became a member of the 29th and 529th AAF Bands, stationed at the AAF Basic Training Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey and then at Buckley Field in Aurora and Lowry Field in Denver. Dooley became acquainted with Capt. Glenn Miller, Director of Bands for the Army Air Forces Training Command at Atlantic City. Miller was auditioning personnel for assignment to an elite New York-based radio orchestra Miller himself would lead. The AAF had already established a Hollywood-based radio orchestra commanded by Maj. Eddie Dunstedter and directed by M/Sgt. Felix Slatkin. Miller selected personnel from the 28th and 29th AAF Bands stationed at Atlantic City as well as men from various units around the country, including Gordon’s acquaintances M/Sgt. Norman Leyden and Cpl. Henry Mancini. Dooley was among a group of musicians from the bands Miller assigned to the Colorado air bases.  

After World War II ended, Gordon played trumpet in the Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Tex Beneke, where he was reunited with Leyden and Mancini. Gordon stayed with Tex Beneke before moving to Colorado and starting his own 10-piece orchestra.

Dean Bushnell recalled for the Denver Post, "Gordon had a great personality, and he was a very good businessman," Bushnell said. "He was a marvelous jazz trumpet player, with a very melodious concept of improvisation. But above all that, he was a true friend"

The GMA could not remember Gordon any better. It is an honor to permanently preserve the legacy of Gordon Dooley.

About The Glenn Miller Archive

The Glenn Miller Archive (GMA) of the American Music Research Center at the University of Colorado Boulder is the designated repository for the legacy of Alton Glenn Miller, American icon and popular musician. The GMA is one of the most important big band and popular music centers in the world, containing many dozens of collections entrusted with the GMA for preservation, restoration and communication. The objective of the GMA is to be a dynamic resource for scholars, students and the public where 20th Century American Musical History is honored and presented for education and enjoyment. With partner KEZW-Entercom Communications, the GMA produces the weekly Star Spangled Radio Hour international broadcast containing original radio broadcasts from the GMA Collections. Many thousands of hours of audio recordings from radio broadcasts, recordings and transcriptions are preserved by the GMA. The personal property, documents, correspondence and papers of numerous artists, producers, journalists and collectors; many periodicals, thousands of photographs and other memorabilia are located in the archive. The GMA is a national treasure. Every popular American recording and radio artist is represented in the archive.