Duchin is the son of the famous bandleader, Eddie Duchin and the socialite Marjorie Oelrichs, who was shunned by her family for marrying beneath her. His mother died only six days after he was born, and his busy father gave him into the custody of her friends, the extremely wealthy and powerful Democratic Party grandees, Averell and Marie Harriman.
In 1947 he went back to live with his remarried father and step-mother, but his father died in 1951. He grew up surrounded by the rich, famous and powerful, and made his own independent career as a bandleader and pianist.
He is active in a number of causes supporting wildlife, air quality and education.
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