b. 1883, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, d. 20 March 1962, New York City, New York, USA. An early Purcell show on Broadway was The Golden Butterfly (1908), music by Reginald DeKoven, book and lyrics by Harry B. Smith. Purcell’s songs included ‘Legend’ and ‘The Elf King’, both sung with Gladys Coleman and Alice Hills. He was in The Pretty Mrs. Smith (1914, starring Fritzi Scheff), Flora Bella (1916), My Lady’s Glove and Maytime (both 1917). The latter had music by Sigmund Romberg, book and lyrics by Rida Johnson Young, and Purcell and Peggy Wood introduced the big hit, ‘Will You Remember?’. Purcell was then in The Melting Of Molly (1918, music by Romberg, lyrics by Cyrus Wood), Monte Cristo Jr. and The Magic Melody (both 1919), and Poor Little Ritz Girl (1920). None of these shows became hits, despite some important credits. The latter, for example, had music by Romberg and lyrics by Alex Gerber as well as several songs by the virtually unknown Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Their songs included ‘Love Will Call’, ‘You Can’t Fool Your Dreams’, ‘What Happened Nobody Knows’, ‘All You Need To Be A Star’, ‘Love’s Intense In Tents’, and ‘The Daisy And The Lark’.
During the 20s, Purcell was in Dearest Enemy (1925), written by the now much better known Rodgers and Hart, which had a 286-performance run. Songs sung by Purcell included ‘Cheerio’, ‘Here In My Arms’ and ‘Bye And Bye’, the latter pair duets with Helen Ford, and ‘Here’s A Kiss’, a duet with Helen Spring. Purcell was also in the musicals Oh, Please (1926) and Judy (1927), while the early 30s saw him appear in three revivals of The Chocolate Soldier, the show for which he was most remembered, and in Shady Lady (1933). Purcell’s last Broadway shows included another revival of The Chocolate Soldier (1943) and he had a character role in Park Avenue (1946), music by Arthur Schwartz, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, book by Nunnally Johnson and George S. Kaufman. Purcell appears to have made only one film, The Yanks Are Coming (1942).