A bequest from Lancelot P. Ross, a renowned singer and composer who graduated from Yale College in 1928, has established funding for an undergraduate scholarship and general support for musical activities at Yale University.
Under the terms of the singer's estate, the endowed scholarship will be awarded every year with preference to a Yale College student with demonstrated need who contributes to the musical activities at Yale. The first Lancelot P. Ross Scholarship was awarded to a student during the 1996-97 academic year.
In addition to the scholarship, the estate also funds the "Lanny Ross Undergraduate Music Program" at Yale in support of the University's diverse music activities. The Ross Program will provide funding for the professional director positions of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and Yale Concert Band, widely acknowledged to be among the most outstanding musical ensembles in American colleges today. The program will also provide instrument replacements as needed for these ensembles.
Lancelot Ross -- "Lanny" to generations of radio and film fans -- was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Douglas and Winifred Ross, both natives of England. His father later became the director of the Yale University Dramatic Association. Lanny studied at the Cathedral Choir School in New York and the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut. At Yale, he sang in the University Glee Club and the Chapel Choir, played lead roles in theatrical productions, and became a member of the Whiffenpoofs. Active in student government, he also lettered on the varsity track team, and he was selected to membership in Zeta Psi and Skull and Bones.
Following his graduation from Yale in 1928, Lanny began a long and successful career in the performing arts. He started in radio and signed a contract with NBC in New York City, working as a singer at the same time that he was attending Columbia Law School, from which he received his LL.B. in 1931. He also studied at the Juilliard School of Music.
Lanny's musical career included appearances at the Roxy Theatre, Carnegie Hall, and on the Poli Circuit, working in Hollywood with Paramount and Columbia Pictures, and performances in such major productions of the 1930s as "Show Boat" and "Hit Parade." Called to active duty in World War II, he was a member of the Special Services and was stationed in the Southwest Pacific for three years. While there, he also entertained the troops. In 1946, he retired from military duty as a major, having earned the Legion of Merit. He then resumed his musical career and spent several years touring the country under the auspices of the National Concert Corporation. He joined WCBS in 1953, doing daily hour-long radio shows. In addition, he published several of his songs and operettas.
During his celebrated career, Lanny served on the national board of the American Federation of Radio Artists and on the local board of the American Federation of Television and Radio. He regularly performed for charities, served on the national advisory council of the Boy Scouts of America, and was a member of the American Heart Society, the American Cancer Society, and the Dutch Treat Club.
Lanny Ross died in 1988. After the death of his surviving relatives, the bulk of his estate reverted to Yale in late 1996.