Margaret Whiting

I first met Margaret Whiting in 1981 while I was performing regularly at Ted Hook’s Backstage in New York City. She was a close friend of Ted Hook’s, and a regular guest at the club. I had just finished for the night and I was standing at the front desk chatting with Ted. It was raining pretty heavily and Margaret had apparently been waiting outside for a taxi when she gave up and came back in the restaurant, soaked, and asked Ted to try to call for a taxi. He said he would call right away and she went back outside to wait for the cab. I turned to Ted and said, “Who was that?” He said, “Who was that?” with a tone in his voice to suggest that I was totally uninformed and naive. “That was Margaret Whiting!” Soon as I heard the name I recognized it though I have to admit the only thing I knew about her at the time was that she had recorded one of my favorite tunes, “Moonlight In Vermont.” I had the opportunity to get to know Margaret pretty well during my time at Backstage, and even better in the years that followed. On one occasion in 1986, a mutual friend, Don Shaffer, called and told me that he would be coming to see my show that evening. He said he would be staying for about an hour and then he was going to catch Margaret’s show at the Algonquin Hotel where they were having a book signing for the release of her autobiography, “It Might As Well Be Spring” after which Don said they would be coming back to the Grand Hyatt to catch my last show. I had an old 78 recording of Margaret singing a tune called, “Pass The Peace Pipe.” Knowing that Don was going to see her, I brought it with me and asked Don to have Margaret autograph it. Hours later when they showed up at the Hyatt Don took me aside and said he had something terrible to tell me. He had accidentally sat on the record and shattered it. It was all pretty funny at the time especially cause he thought it was such a big deal and I hardly cared. Anyhow, when they arrived Margaret came up to me and handed me a signed copy of her book. The inscription read,

“Dear Paul,

Sorry there aren’t any Indians in here. Hope you enjoy the book anyhow.

Love,

Maggie.

(The Indians refer to the song on the record; “Pass The Peace Pipe.”)

Through the years Margaret has been so supportive. We’ve corresponded, I’ve made a point to see her perform when ever I was in New York and she even came to see me perform in San Francisco when she was in town performing at the Plush Room. When I think of some of the wonderful entertainers, musicians, composers I’ve met through the years, Margaret definitely tops the list. If you haven’t experienced listening to her, do yourself a favor and purchase her recording:

Margaret Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook. It was recorded in 1960 and it is wonderful!

Here’s her biography and a couple of video clips.

Margaret Whiting (born July 22, 1924, Detroit, Michigan) is a singer of American popular music who first made her reputation during the 1940s and 1950s.

Margaret’s musical talent may have been inherited; her father Richard Whiting, was a famous composer of popular songs. She also had an aunt, Margaret Young, who was also a singer and popular recording artist in the 1920s. In her childhood her singing ability had already been noticed, and at the age of only seven she sang for singer-lyricist Johnny Mercer, with whom her father had collaborated on some popular songs. In 1942, Mercer started Capitol Records and signed Margaret to one of Capitol’s first recording contracts.

Her first recordings were as featured singer with various orchestras:

In 1945 she began to record under her own name, making such recordings as:

(these two from the movie “Centennial Summer”)

Until the mid-1950s, Whiting continued to record for Capitol, but as she ceased to record songs that charted as hits, switched to Dot Records in 1957 and to Verve Records in 1960.

In 1957, she guest starred on the ABC variety program, The Guy Mitchell Show. Whiting came back to Capitol in the mid-1960s but went with London Records in 1966. On London, Whiting landed one last major hit single in 1966, “The Wheel of Hurt“, which hit #1 on the Easy Listening singles chart. She continued to sing into the 1990’s.

Marriages

  • Hubbell Robinson Jr., a writer, producer, and television executive (December 29, 1948 – divorced August 18, 1949)
  • Lou Busch, a ragtime pianist known as “Joe ‘Fingers’ Carr” (divorced; one daughter, Deborah, born 1951)
  • John Richard Moore, a founder of Panavision (married 1958 – divorced)
  • Jack Wrangler (né John Stillman; 1994 – April 7, 2009; his death)

Margaret and Jack

Her late-life marriage to gay porn star Jack Wrangler, who was more than 20 years her junior, raised many eyebrows. In 1976, Wrangler met Whiting at Ted Hook’s, Backstage Restaurant and Piano Club in, New York City (see [1]). As he later recalled, “I was with my manager when I looked over at Margaret, who was surrounded by five guys in a booth. There she was with the hair, the furs and the big gestures. I thought, ‘Boy, now that’s New York! That’s glamor!’ I had to meet her.” When the couple first got together, Wrangler protested, “But I’m gay!”, to which Whiting reportedly replied, “Only around the edges, dear.” In an interview later in life, Wrangler said, “I’m not bisexual and I’m not straight. I’m gay, but I could never live a gay lifestyle because I’m much too competitive. When I was with a guy I would always want to be better than him: what we were accomplishing, what we were wearing – anything. With a woman you compete like crazy, but coming from different points of view, and as far as I’m concerned, that was doable”.[1]

Discography

Albums

Year Album US POP LPs Label
1950 Margaret Whiting Sings Rodgers & Hart Capitol
1954 Love Songs by Margaret Whiting
1956 Margaret Whiting Sings for the Starry-Eyed
1957 Goin’ Places Dot
1958 Margaret
1960 Just a Dream
Margaret Whiting Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook Verve
1961 Past Midnight MGM
1967 The Wheel of Hurt 109 London

Singles

Year Single Contributing Artist Chart Positions
Pop Country AC
1942 “That Old Black Magic” Freddie Slack & His Orchestra 10
1943 “My Ideal” Billy Butterfield & His Orchestra 12
1944 “Silver Wings In the Moonlight” Freddie Slack & His Orchestra 19
1945 “Moonlight In Vermont” Billy Butterfield & His Orchestra 15
“It Might As Well Be Spring” Paul Weston & His Orchestra 6
1946 “All Through the Day” 11
“In Love In Vain” 12
“Come Rain or Come Shine” 17
“Along With Me” 13
“Passe” 12
“Guilty” 4
“Oh, But I Do” 7
1947 “Beware My Heart” 21
“Old Devil Moon” 11
“Ask Anyone Who Knows” 21
“Little Girl Blue” 25
“You Do” 5
“Lazy Countryside” 21
“Pass That Peace Pipe” 8
1948 “Let’s Be Sweethearts Again” 22
“But Beautiful” 21
“Now is the Hour” 2
“What’s Good About Goodbye” 29
“Please Don’t Kiss Me” 23
“A Tree in the Meadow” 1
“Far Away Places” 2
1949 “Forever and Ever” 5
“A Wonderful Guy” 12
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Johnny Mercer 3
Slippin’ Around Jimmy Wakely 1 1
“Wedding Bells” 30 6
“Dime a Dozen 19
“I’ll Never Slip Around Again” Jimmy Wakely 8 2
1950 “Broken Down Merry Go Round” 12 2
“The Gods Were Angry With Me” 6 3
“I Said My Pajamas (and Put On My Prayers)” Frank De Vol 21
“Let’s Go To Church (Next Sunday Morning)” Jimmy Wakely 13 2
“My Foolish Heart” 17
“Blind Date” Bob Hope 16
“A Bushel and a Peck” Jimmy Wakely 6 6
1951 “When You and I Were Young, Maggie, Blues” 20 7
“Good Morning, Mr. Echo” 14
“I Don’t Want To Be Free” Jimmy Wakely 5
1952 “I’ll Walk Alone” 29
“Outside of Heaven” 22
1953 “Why Don’t You Believe Me?” 29
1954 “Moonlight In Vermont” new version 29
1956 “The Money Tree” 20
1958 “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)” 74
1966 “Somewhere There’s Love” 29
“The Wheel of Hurt” 26 1
1967 “Just Like a Man” 132 29
“Only Love Can Break a Heart” 96 4
“I Almost Called Your Name” 108 4
1968 “I Hate To See Me Go” 127 27
“It Keeps Right On a Hurtin'” 115 28
“Faithfully” 117 19
“Can’t Get You Out of My Mind” 124 11
1969 “Where Was I” 24
1970 “(Z Theme) Life Goes On” 14
“Until It’s Time For You To Go” 32

Sources: Wikipedia, “It Might As Well Be Spring” by Margaret Whiting, Big Band Encyclopaedia, Personal Interaction.

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3 Comments

  1. She is terrific! her Dad was great , and she never let him down. She was also one of the “4 Girls 4” who helped Rosemary Clooney stage a comeback, with nephew George driving them around to their gigs before he got to be such a big shot himself.

  2. Margaret Whiting & fine wine…two of my favorite things…but not always in that order -)


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