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Mack Harrell

Mack Harrell, formerly of Greenville, who was acclaimed as one of the world's greatest concert baritones of his generation is dead.

The fifty-year old native of Celeste, who was reared and educated in Greenville died Friday in a Dallas hospital after a long illness. His home was a 6406 Belmead, Dallas.

Funeral services for the famed singer will be held at 3:30 PM, Monday afternoon, at the Highland Park Methodist Church. the Rev. William H. Dickinson, Jr., and Dr. Willis Tate will conduct the services. Cremation will follow.

A promising violinist when he was a high school student in Greenville, Mr. Harrell started studying voice after he left this city. Eventually he rose to fame as star of the New York's Metropolitan Opera.

Mr. Harrell was artist-in-residence at Southern Methodist University, and was active until early this winter. The illness that finally took his life had its beginning last April.

The noted singer was the son of M. K. Harrell and Mollie Kelly Harrell who brought him to Greenville when he was a child.

Stricken with polio at the age of three, Mr. Harrell, it is said, first heard classical records on the parlor phonograph at the age of four or five. He started studying violin at the age of ten and continued for twelve years before instructors discovered the greatness of his baritone voice.

Mr. Harrell studied violin at Oklahoma City University and with Emanuel Zetlin at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute, to which he was awarded a scholarship.

While he was attending Curtis Institute another violin student who later became his wife--Marjorie Fulton of Oklahoma City--who got him a vocal audition.

The couple was married in New York in 1935 after they attended the Julliard School of Music. That same year Mr. Harrell was appointed soloist for the First Church of Christ Scientist--the Mother Church--in Boston.

In Dallas, Mr. Harrell sang in churches and on radio. He played the violin with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and on Radio Station WFAA.

When he won a Metropolitan Opera Audition of the Air prize in 1939, Mr. Harrell sprang into opera. The victory built his reputation for a successful American tour that swung him through many cities of the nation. His stellar roles with the Metropolitan Opera followed.

Mr. Harrell was the first Metropolitan Opera star to sing in the Municipal Auditorium in Greenville. He returned to his home town to score a great triumph in a concert sponsored by the Community Concerts Association a number of years ago. The auditorium was filled to its capacity of more than 2,000.

After he signed a Metropolitan Opera contract, Mr. Harrell was in the premier performances of Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress" and Carlisle Floyd's "Susanna." He also made major recordings.

It was in 1957 that Mr. Harrell took his post at Southern Methodist University.

Since 1953, he had been administrative chairman of the Music Festival at Aspen, Colorado. His wife plays the violin professionally--most recently at North Texas State College.

Besides his wife, Mr. Harrell is survived by two sons, Mack Fulton Harrell and Lynn Harrell; a daughter, Miss Jane Harrell; and a brother, Lynn Harrell, all of Dallas; a sister, Mrs. Dorothy Marchbank of Bethesda, Maryland; one niece, Mrs. Eben Carsey, Greenville. His brother, a talented pianist, played with big name bands for several years.

Other Greenville relatives of Mr. Harrell are Mrs. P. M. Kelly, Mrs. T. A. Harris, Mrs. Rob Ferguson, and Mrs. Gayle Oler.

(July 31, 1960, The Greenville Herald Banner)

(Mack Harrell's Celeste relatives included Mabene Denny. His Celeste home is where the historic marker is today...the house on West Sanger Street. Mack had polio while in Celeste. He listened to the records when he couldn't run and play. His father was M. K. Harrell, the banker. I believe he died before the rest of the family moved to Greenville).

Submitted by Sarah Swindell

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