Lorenzo Music

Lorenzo and Henrietta Music. (Image: Public Domain)

Gerald David Music was born on May 2, 1937, in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were Harry Music and Sophie (Nessell) Music. Harry was a master mechanic and also a drummer. He moved the family to Duluth around 1943 for a job in the Walter Butler Shipyards in Superior. The family first resided at 912 East Fourth Street. Sophie first came to Duluth from Russia with her family about 1921. She was born in Russia on July 16, 1907, to Emanuel and Amelia Nessell. In Duluth, Emanuel worked with his brother, Osher, in shops, including the First Street Store. The family resided at 218 North First Avenue West.

Gerald attended public schools in Duluth. His father, Harry, is listed in the 1946 Duluth City Directory as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. After that year, he isn’t listed and it’s unclear what happened to him. Sophie and Gerald stayed in Duluth where he attended school and she worked as a clerk in the First Street Store. Gerald, or Jerry, attended Duluth Central High School where he was active in, among other things, class plays, Radio Dramatics Club, the Thespian Society, A Cappella Choir, and the Boys Club Council. He graduated in 1955. While in school, Jerry worked at KDAL-TV as a floorboy, holding cue cards for announcers. Following high school, he attended the University of Minnesota Duluth, majoring in speech and English. He was active in several campus theatrical productions, including Guys and Dolls. While at UMD, he met fellow student Myrna Johnson, a native Duluthian with interests similar to Jerry’s. Myrna’s parents were Claude A. and Margaret C. Johnson, and they lived in West Duluth at 1326 North Central Avenue. Myrna was born December 13, 1939, graduated from Denfeld High School in 1958, and then attended UMD.

Jerry left Duluth about 1959 to pursue an entertainment career. Myrna soon joined him and they began touring as a team. They were married on October 31, 1960. By 1961, they were touring around the country, appearing in night clubs with an act of sophisticated humor and folk music, with Jerry playing banjo. They appeared at the Homecoming Dance at UMD in October of 1961 and in 1964 had a twelve-day engagement at Duluth’s Flame restaurant.

In the 1960s, Jerry had met the Smothers Brothers, and in 1967 they hired him as a writer for their new show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. For his work on that show, Jerry won an Emmy Award for comedy writing in 1969. He went on to write for the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour and, with David Davis in the 1970s, created such popular shows as the Mary Tyler Moore Show, the Bob Newhart Show, and Rhoda. It was on Rhoda that Jerry took on the part of Carlton the Doorman when they couldn’t find an actor they were happy with for the role.

In the late 1960s, because of their beliefs in the tenets of a spiritual group called Subud, they changed their first names, Jerry to Lorenzo and Myrna to Henrietta. Based on their success, in 1976 the Musics were given their own syndicated talk, comedy, and musical variety show, The Lorenzo and Henrietta Music Show. It didn’t work out and was canceled after six weeks.

At about that time, Lorenzo began working as a voice-over actor for radio commercials and cartoons. This proved to be a very successful career move for him. In 1982, Lorenzo provided the voice for Garfield the Cat in the TV special, Here Comes Garfield, and he won a second Emmy Award in 1984 for co-writing the second Garfield special, Garfield on the Town. He went on to do Garfield’s voice for 115 episodes of the Saturday morning animated series, Garfield and Friends, from 1988 to 1995. Some of Lorenzo’s other memorable voiceovers are a crash-test dummy and a store owner on The Drew Carey Show.

Lorenzo and Henrietta returned to Duluth often for visits with relatives and to attend high-school reunions, sometimes providing the entertainment for their classmates. They had four children, all born in Los Angeles: Natasha, born October 29, 1964; Fernando, born April 5, 1969; Samuel, born June 5, 1974; and Leilani, born January 9, 1979. Lorenzo’s mother, Sophie, left Duluth around 1963 to live in Los Angeles. She died there on July 16, 1995. Henrietta’s parents died in Duluth, Claude on April 21, 1973, and Margaret on November 9, 2006, at the age of 97. Lorenzo died in Los Angeles at the age of 64 on August 4, 2001.

Story by David Ouse. Originally published on Zenith City Online (2012–2017). Click here for more stories by David Ouse.