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Lawrence Mervil Tibbett (November 16, 1896 – July 15, 1960) was a famous American opera singer and recording artist who also performed as a film actor and radio personality. A baritone, he sang leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera in New York more than 600 times from 1923 to 1950. He performed diverse musical theatre roles, including Captain Hook in Peter Pan in a touring show.
Lawrence Tibbett was born Lawrence Mervil Tibbet (with a single final "t") on November 16, 1896 in Bakersfield, California. His father was a part-time deputy sheriff, killed in a shootout with desperado Jim McKinney in 1903. Tibbett grew up in Los Angeles, earning money by singing in church choirs and at funerals. He graduated from Manual Arts High School in 1915. A year later, he met his future wife, Grace Mackay Smith, who rented a room in his mother's house. During World War I he served in the Merchant Marine, after which he found employment singing as prologue to silent movies at the Grauman "Million Dollar" Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
Tibbett studied in New York City with Frank La Forge and in 1923 at the age of 26, he signed his first contract, for $60 per week, with the Metropolitan Opera, using the name "Tibbett" (a spelling he had used occasionally in his youth). Over the ensuing years, with the Met, he built a hugely successful career, displaying an outstanding voice, immaculate musicianship, and a strong stage presence. He recorded exclusively for the Victor Talking Machine Company/RCA Victor for his entire career.