Whiteman was first violinist in symphony orchestras. In 1918 he became director of the orchestra of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. With this orchestra he took part in 1920 engagements in Atlantic City and New York and went on a European tour in 1923 so. The orchestra had almost symphonic size and was very successful commercially. This allowed Whiteman to engage a significant number of young, white jazz musicians, many of whom should make as a bandleader or soloist during the swing era career in the following years even. These include in particular Jack Teagarden, Frank Trumbauer, Bunny Berigan, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, brothers Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey Dorsey and Bix Beiderbecke and Bing Crosby. 1924 took over the orchestra in New York premiere of Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, orchestrated by Whiteman's arranger Ferde Grofé. At the height of his success, he formed his orchestra and the core cast of the Technicolor revue film King of Jazz, was integrated into the the Rhapsody in Blue in 1930. Whiteman led the orchestra until the mid- 40s and then was music director at radio station ABC.
The sound of the Whiteman Orchestra is the leading black jazz bands of that time can not be compared, in particular due to their often complex and pompous arrangements; However, several LP recordings are so far very interesting, as they document in many places the beginnings of the aforementioned jazz musicians worth listening to solos. Whiteman's musical style is also known as symphonic jazz. This sound turned out to be very successful, because Whiteman's first recording session Whispering from September 1920 has sold almost two million copies and thus became the first million-seller of pop music. At 3.4 million records even stronger revenue be published in September 1922 Three O'Clock In The Morning. In addition to these titles he could reach a total of a further 29 # 1 rankings in the singles chart.
Paul Whiteman was in fourth marriage with the actress Margaret Livingston (1900-1984) married.