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Life and career
Duchin was born in New York City, the son of pianist and band leader Eddy Duchin. His mother was Marjorie Oelrichs, a Newport, Rhode Island and New York City socialite who died unexpectedly when he was just five days old. He was raised by close family friends, statesman W. Averell Harriman and his wife, Marie Norton Harriman.
Duchin was educated at Eaglebrook School and The Hotchkiss School prep schools in New England. He spent time in Paris, France and studied at the Sorbonne before returning home and graduating from Yale University.
In 1964, he married Cheray Zauderer, a divorced Manhattan socialite with whom he eventually had three children. As a wedding gift, her father gave them a Thoroughbred yearling named Mr. Right. The colt became one of four racehorses to ever win both the U.S. West Coast's Santa Anita Handicap and the East Coast's Woodward Stakes.
Duchin's music was much heard on MOR radio in the late 1960s and early 70s from albums and singles released on the Decca, Bell and Capitol labels. His single "Star Dust" reached #143 in the Cashbox survey, 1964.
From 1985 to 1989, Duchin had a professional partnership with Jimmy Maxwell, leader of the traditional society jazz band in New Orleans.
Duchin is an honorary member and former Vice-Chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts. He has served on the boards of American Ballet Theatre, Carnegie Hall, Spoleto Festival USA, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the board of Trustees for the Glimmerglass Opera of Cooperstown, New York, the Advisory Council for the American Russian Youth Orchestra, the National Jazz Service Organization, the World Policy Institute, and the Citizens Committee For New York City.
He was also a board member for The Center for Arts Education.
Having divorced, in 1985 Peter Duchin married Brooke Hayward, with whom he'd been cohabiting since 1981. The couple maintained a loft in New York City and a house in Washington in Litchfield County, Connecticut. In 1996 he published his memoir, Ghost of a Chance. In 2008, Brooke Hayward and Peter Duchin announced their separation and eventually divorced.
Duchin married Virginia Coleman over the 2012 Memorial Day weekend at the home of Kathy and Bill Rayner in East Hampton.