Farewell Deanna Durbin

Deanna Durbin (born December 4, 1921) is a Canadian-born, Southern California-raised retired singer and actress, who appeared in a number of musical films in the 1930s and 1940s singing standards as well as operatic arias.

Durbin made her first film appearance in 1936 with Judy Garland in Every Sunday, and subsequently signed a contract with Universal Studios. Her success as the ideal teenage daughter in films such as Three Smart Girls (1936) was credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy.[1] In 1938 Durbin was awarded the Academy Juvenile Award.

“Amapola”

Later, as she matured, Durbin grew dissatisfied with the girl-next-door roles assigned to her, and attempted to portray a more womanly and sophisticated style. The film noir Christmas Holiday (1944) and the whodunit Lady on a Train (1945) were, however, not as well received as her musical comedies and romances had been.

Durbin withdrew from Hollywood and retired from acting and singing in 1949. She married film producer-director Charles Henri David in 1950, and the couple moved to a farmhouse in the outskirts of Paris. Since then she has withdrawn from public life. Born Edna Mae Durbin at Grace Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, she was given the professional name Deanna at the beginning of her association with Universal Studios in 1936, when she was still 14 years old. Her parents, James and Ada Durbin, were immigrants from Lancashire, England who would become U.S. citizens after moving their family from Winnipeg to Southern California in 1923. Durbin had an older sister named Edith, who recognized Deanna’s musical talents at an early age and helped Deanna to take singing lessons at Ralph Thomas Academy. This led to her discovery by MGM in 1935. In late 1936, Cesar Sturani, who was the General Music Secretary of the Metropolitan Opera, offered Deanna Durbin an audition. Durbin turned down his request because she felt she needed more singing lessons. Andrés de Segurola, who was the vocal coach working with Universal Studios (and himself a former Metropolitan Opera singer), believed that Deanna Durbin had an excellent opportunity to become an opera star. Andrés de Segurola had been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera to watch her progress carefully and keep them advised. Durbin started a collaboration with Eddie Cantor‘s radio show in 1936. This collaboration lasted until 1938 when her heavy workload for Universal Studios made it imperative for Durbin to discontinue her weekly appearances on Eddie Cantor’s radio show.[2]

“Lover”

Durbin signed a contract with MGM in 1935 and made her first film appearance in a short subject, Every Sunday (1936), with another young contract player, Judy Garland. The film was to serve as an extended screen test for the pair as studio executives were questioning the wisdom of having two female singers on the roster. Ultimately Louis B. Mayer decreed that both girls would be kept, but by the time that decision was made Durbin’s contract option had elapsed.[3]

Durbin was quickly signed to a contract with Universal Studios and made her first feature-length film Three Smart Girls in 1936. The huge success of her films was reported to have saved the studio from bankruptcy.[4] In 1938 she received a special Academy Juvenile Award, along with Mickey Rooney. Such was Durbin’s international fame and popularity that diarist Anne Frank pasted her picture to her bedroom wall in the Achterhuis where the Frank family hid during World War II. The picture can still be seen there today, and was pointed out by Frank’s friend Hannah Pick-Goslar in the documentary film Anne Frank Remembered.

Joe Pasternak who produced many of the early Deanna Durbin movies said about her:

“Deanna’s genius had to be unfolded, but it was hers and hers alone, always has been, always will be, and no one can take credit for discovering her. You can’t hide that kind of light under a bushel. You just can’t, no matter how hard you try!”

In 1936, Durbin auditioned to provide the vocals for Snow White in Disney’s animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but was ultimately rejected by Walt Disney, who declared the 15 year old Durbin’s voice “too old” for the part.[5]

“Every Sunday” with Judy Garland

Durbin is perhaps best known for her singing voice, variously described as being light but full, sweet, unaffected and artless. With the technical skill and vocal range of a legitimate lyric soprano, she performed everything from popular standards to operatic arias. Dame Sister Mary Leo in New Zealand was so taken with Durbin’s technique that she trained all her students to sing in this way. Sister Mary Leo produced a large number of famous sopranos including Dames Malvina Major and Kiri Te Kanawa.

The Russian cellist/conductor Mstislav Rostropovich in a late 1980s interview cited Deanna as one of his most important musical influences, stating: “She helped me in my discovery of myself. You have no idea of the smelly old movie houses I patronized to see Deanna Durbin. I tried to create the very best in my music, to try and recreate, to approach her purity.”[6]

Durbin was the heroine of two 1941 novels, Deanna Durbin and the Adventure of Blue Valley and Deanna Durbin and the Feather of Flame, both written by Kathryn Heisenfelt and published by Whitman Publishing Company. “The heroine has the same name and appearance as the famous actress but has no connection … it is as though the famous actress has stepped into an alternate reality in which she is an ordinary person.” The stories were probably written for a young teenage audience and are reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. They are part of a series known as “Whitman Authorized Editions”, 16 books published between 1941-1947 that featured a film actress as heroine.[7]

“Musetta’s Waltz” from La Bohem

Between December 15, 1936 and July 22, 1947, Deanna Durbin recorded 50 tunes for Decca Records. While often re-creating her movie songs for commercial release, Durbin also covered independent standards, like “Kiss Me Again”, “My Hero”, “Annie Laurie“, “Poor Butterfly“, “Love’s Old Sweet Song” and “God Bless America“.

The star-making five-year association of Deanna Durbin, producer Joe Pasternak and director Henry Koster ended following the film It Started With Eve in 1941. After Pasternak moved from Universal to MGM, Durbin went on suspension between October 16, 1941 and early February 1942 for refusing to appear in They Lived Alone, scheduled to be directed by Koster. Ultimately, the project was canceled when Durbin and Universal settled their differences. In the agreement, Universal conceded to Durbin the approval of her directors, stories and songs.[8]

Durbin married an assistant director, Vaughn Paul, in 1941 and they were divorced in 1943. Her second marriage, to film writer-producer-actor Felix Jackson in 1945, produced a daughter, Jessica Louise Jackson, and ended in divorce in 1949.

In private life, Durbin continued to use her given name; salary figures printed annually by the Hollywood trade publications listed the actress as “Edna Mae Durbin, player.” Her studio continued to cast her in musicals, and filmed two sequels to her original success, Three Smart Girls. The second sequel was a wartime story called Three Smart Girls Join Up, but Durbin issued a press release announcing that she was no longer inclined to participate in these team efforts and was now performing as a solo artist. The Three Smart Girls Join Up title was changed to Hers to Hold. Joseph Cotten, who played alongside Deanna Durbin in Hers to Hold, praised her integrity and character in his autobiography.[9]

“When You’re Away”

She made her only Technicolor film in 1944, Can’t Help Singing, featuring some of the last melodies written by Jerome Kern plus lyrics by E. Y. Harburg. A musical comedy in a Western setting, this production was filmed mostly on location in southern Utah. Her co-star was Robert Paige, who is better known for his work in television dramas in the 1950s.[10]

“Begin The Beguine”

Durbin tried to assume a more sophisticated movie persona in such vehicles as the World War II story of refugee children from China, The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1943), directed in part by Jean Renoir, who left the project before its completion; the film noir Christmas Holiday (1944), directed by Robert Siodmak, and the whodunit Lady on a Train (1945), but her substantial fan base preferred her in light musical confections.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s groundbreaking Broadway production of Oklahoma! in 1943 might have showcased Deanna Durbin as original Laurie, but Universal refused to accept the proposal.

In 1945 and 1947, Deanna Durbin was the top-salaried woman in the United States. Her fan club ranked as the world’s largest during her active years.

In 1946, her employers merged with two other companies to create Universal-International, and the new regime discontinued much of Universal’s familiar product and scheduled only a few musicals. Durbin stayed on for another four pictures, but her two releases of 1948, Up in Central Park, a film adaptation of the 1945 Broadway musical, and then what became her last feature, For the Love of Mary, saw her international box-office clout diminish. On August 22, 1948, two months after the latter film was finished, Universal-International announced a lawsuit which sought to collect from Durbin $87,083 in wages the studio had paid her in advance.[11] Durbin settled the complaint amicably by agreeing to star in three more pictures, including one to be shot on location in Paris. Ultimately, the studio would allow Deanna’s contract to expire on August 31, 1949, so the three films were not produced. Durbin, who obtained a $200,000 ($1,842,577 as of 2011),[12] severance payment[13] chose at this point to retire from movie making, already having turned down Bing Crosby‘s request for her to appear in his 1949 attractions for Paramount Pictures: Top o’ the Morning and/or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

“Can’t Help Singin”

In Paris on December 21, 1950, Deanna Durbin, shortly after turning 29 years old, married Charles David, the producer-director of both French and American pictures who had guided her through Lady on a Train (1945). Durbin and David raised two children: Jessica (from her second marriage to Felix Jackson) and Peter (from her union with David).

Over the years, Durbin resisted numerous offers to perform again, including two choice proposals by MGM, asking her to take the female lead in the screen version of Cole Porter‘s Kiss Me Kate (1953), and to costar with Mario Lanza in Sigmund Romberg‘s operetta, The Student Prince (1954). As for stage shows, Durbin had been invited to play Kiss Me Kate ‘s Lilli Vanessi in London’s 1951-52 West End production, and reportedly, Alan Jay Lerner first had Deanna in mind to portray Eliza Doolittle in the 1956 Broadway cast of My Fair Lady. Suggestions that Durbin vocalize at the major Las Vegas casinos went unfulfilled.

She granted only one interview in 1983, to film historian David Shipman, steadfastly asserting her right to privacy. She maintains that privacy today, declining to be profiled on Internet websites.[14]

“Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera, Turandot.

However, Durbin has made it known that she did not like the Hollywood studio system. She has emphasized that she never identified herself with the public image that the media created around her. She speaks of the Deanna “persona” in the third person and considers the film character Deanna Durbin a by-product of her youth and not her true self.[15]

Durbin’s husband of over 48 years, Charles David, died in Paris on March 1, 1999.

Deanna Durbin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1722 Vine Street.

Frank Tashlin‘s 1937 Warner Bros. cartoon The Woods are Full of Cuckoos contains an avian caricature of Deanna Durbin called “Deanna Terrapin”.

Durbin’s name found its way into the introduction to a song written by satirical writer Tom Lehrer in 1965. Prior to singing “Whatever Became of Hubert?”, Lehrer said that Vice President Hubert Humphrey had been relegated to “those where-are-they-now columns: Whatever became of Deanna Durbin, and Hubert Humphrey, and so on.”

She is mentioned in Richard Brautigan‘s novel Trout Fishing in America, when the narrator claims to have seen one of her movies seven times, but can’t recall which one.[16]

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com

Film credits
Title↓ Year↓ Role↓ Notes
Every Sunday 1936 Edna short subject (opposite Judy Garland)
Three Smart Girls 1936 Penelope “Penny” Craig Academy Juvenile Award
One Hundred Men and a Girl 1937 Patricia Cardwell
Mad About Music 1938 Gloria Harkinson
That Certain Age 1938 Alice Fullerton
Three Smart Girls Grow Up 1939 Penny Craig
For Auld Lang Syne: No. 4 1939 Herself short subject
First Love 1939 Constance “Connie” Harding
It’s a Date 1940 Pamela Drake a short subject, Gems of Song, was excerpted from this feature in 1949
Spring Parade 1940 Ilonka Tolnay
Nice Girl? 1941 Jane “Pinky” Dana
Friend Indeed, AA Friend Indeed 1941 Herself short subject for the American Red Cross
It Started with Eve 1941 Anne Terry
Amazing Mrs. Holliday, TheThe Amazing Mrs. Holliday 1943 Ruth Kirke Holliday
Show Business at War 1943 Herself short subject
Hers to Hold 1943 Penny Craig
His Butler’s Sister 1943 Ann Carter
Road to Victory 1944 Herself short subject
Christmas Holiday 1944 Jackie Lamont/Abigail Martin
Can’t Help Singing 1944 Caroline Frost her only film in Technicolor
Lady on a Train 1945 Nikki Collins/Margo Martin
Because of Him 1946 Kim Walker
I’ll Be Yours 1947 Louise Ginglebusher
Something in the Wind 1947 Mary Collins
Up in Central Park 1948 Rosie Moore
For the Love of Mary 1948 Mary Peppertree

Deanna Durbin songs

  • A Heart That’s Free [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Alice Blue Gown
  • Alleluia [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Always [From “Christmas Holiday”]
  • Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)
  • Amapola [From “First Love”]
  • Annie Laurie
  • Any Moment Now [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Ave Maria [From “Mad About Music”]
  • Ave Maria [From “It’s a Date”]
  • Be A Good Scout [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Because [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • Begin the Beguine [From “Hers to Hold”]
  • Beneath the Lights of Home [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Brahms’ Lullaby [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • Brindisi (Libiamo ne’ lieti calici) [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Californ-I-Ay
  • Can’t Help Singing [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Can’t Help Singing (Deanna Durbin & Robert Paige) [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Carmena Waltz
  • Chapel Bells [From “Mad About Music”]
  • Cielito Lindo (Beautiful Heaven)
  • Ciribiribin
  • Clavelitos (J. Valverde) [From “It Started with Eve”]
  • Danny Boy [From “Because of Him”]
  • Embrace Me
  • Every Sunday (with Judy Garland)
  • Filles de Cadiz (The Maids of Cadiz) [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Gimme a Little Kiss, Will Ya, Huh? [From “Lady on a Train”]
  • God Bless America
  • Goin’ Home [From “It Started With Eve”]
  • Goodbye [From “Because of Him”]
  • Granada [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • Home! Sweet Home! [From “First Love”]
  • Il Bacio (The Kiss) [From “Three Smart Girls”]
  • I’ll Follow My Sweet Heart
  • I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • I’ll See You In My Dreams
  • I Love to Whistle [From “Mad About Music”]
  • (I’m) Happy Go Lucky and Free [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • (I’m) Happy Go Lucky and Free [From “Something in the Wind”] (Deanna Durbin & Donald O’Connor)
  • In the Spirit of the Moment [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • Italian Street Song
  • It’s a Big, Wide, Wonderful World [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • It’s Dreamtime [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • It’s Foolish But It’s Fun [From “Spring Parade”]
  • It’s Only Love [From “Something In The Wind”]
  • It’s Raining Sunbeams [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Invitation To The Dance [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • Je Veux Vivre (from Roméo et Juliette) [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Kiss Me Again
  • La Estrellita (Little Star)
  • Largo Al Factotum (from The Barber of Seville) [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • Loch Lomond [From “It’s a Date”]
  • Love At Last [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Love Is All [From “It’s a Date”]
  • Lover [From “Because of Him”]
  • Love’s Old Sweet Song
  • Make Believe (Jerome Kern song)
  • Molly Malone
  • More and More [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • More And More/Can’t Help Singing [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Musetta’s Waltz (from La bohème) [From “It’s a Date”]
  • My Heart Is Singing [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • My Hero
  • My Own [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Nessun Dorma (from Turandot) [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • Never in a Million Years/Make Believe
  • Night and Day [From “Lady on a Train”]
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Old Folks at Home [From “Nice Girl”]
  • On Moonlight Bay [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • One Fine Day (from Madama Butterfly) [From “First Love”]
  • One Night Of Love
  • Pace, Pace, Mio Dio (La forza del destino) [From “Up In Central Park”]
  • Pale Hands I Loved (Kashmiri Song) [From “Hers to Hold”]
  • Perhaps [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Poor Butterfly
  • Russian Medley [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • Sari Waltz (Love’s Own Sweet Song) [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • Say a Pray’r for the Boys Over There [From “Hers to Hold”]
  • Seal It With a Kiss
  • Seguidilla (from Carmen) [From “Hers To Hold”]
  • Serenade to the Stars [From “Mad About Music”]
  • Silent Night [From “Lady On A Train”]
  • Someone to Care for Me [From “Three Smart Girls”]
  • Something in the Wind [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • Spring in My Heart [From “First Love”]
  • Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year [From “Christmas Holiday”]
  • Swanee – Old Folks At Home [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Summertime (from Porgy And Bess)
  • Sweetheart
  • Thank You America [From “Nice Girl”]
  • The Blue Danube [From “Spring Parade”]
  • The Last Rose of Summer [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • The Old Refrain [From “The Amazing Mrs. Holiday”]
  • The Prince
  • The Turntable Song [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • There’ll Always Be An England [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Two Guitars [“Две гитары” – Russian Gypsy Folk song (Lyrics – Apollon Grigoriev, music – Ivan Vasiliev), from “His Butler’s Sister” (1943)]
  • Two Hearts
  • Un bel di vedremo (from Madama Butterfly) [From “First Love”]
  • Viennese Waltz [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • Vissi d’arte (from Tosca) [From “The Amazing Mrs. Holiday”]
  • Waltzing in the Clouds [From “Spring Parade”]
  • When April Sings [From “Spring Parade”]
  • When I Sing [From “It Started with Eve”]
  • When The Roses Bloom Again
  • When You’re Away [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • You Wanna Keep Your Baby Looking Nice, Don’t You [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • You’re As Pretty As A Picture [From “That Certain Age”]
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Annette Funicello

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Annette Joanne Funicello (October 22, 1942 – April 8, 2013) was an American actress and singer. Beginning her professional career as a child performer at the age of twelve, Funicello rose to prominence as one of the most popular “Mouseketeers” on the original Mickey Mouse Club.[1] As a teenager, she transitioned to a successful career as a singer with the pop singles “O Dio Mio,” “Tall Paul” and “Pineapple Princess“, as well as establishing herself as a film actress, popularizing the successful “Beach Party” genre alongside co-star Frankie Avalon during the mid-1960s.

In 1992, Funicello announced that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She died of complications of the disease on April 8, 2013.[2][3] 

The Mickey Mouse Club

Funicello took dancing and music lessons as a child to overcome shyness. In 1955, the 12-year-old was discovered by Walt Disneywhen she performed as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake at a dance recital at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, California. Disney cast her as one of the original “Mouseketeers”. She was the last to be selected, and one of the few cast-members to be personally selected by Walt Disney himself. She proved to be very popular and by the end of the first season of Mickey Mouse Club, she was receiving 6,000 letters a month, according to her Disney Legends biography.

Annette Funicello2In addition to appearing in many Mouseketeer sketches and dance routines, Funicello starred in several serials on The Mickey Mouse Club. These included Adventure in DairylandWalt Disney Presents: Annette (which co-starred Richard Deacon), and the second and third Spin and Marty serials – The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty and The New Adventures of Spin and Marty.

A proposed live-action feature Rainbow Road to Oz was to have starred some of the Mouseketeers, including Darlene Gillespie as Dorothy and Funicello as Ozma. Preview segments from the film aired on September 11, 1957 on Disneylands fourth anniversary show.[6] By then, MGM’s The Wizard of Oz had already been shown on CBS Television for the first time. Theories on why the film was abandoned include Disney’s failure to develop a satisfactory script, and the popularity of the MGM film on television. Disney ultimately replaced this film project with a new adaptation of Babes in Toyland (1961).

In a hayride scene in the Annette serial, she performed the song that launched her singing career. The studio received so much mail about “How Will I Know My Love” (lyrics by Tom Adair, music by Frances Jeffords and William Walsh[7][8]), that Walt Disney issued it as a single, and gave Funicello (somewhat unwillingly) a recording contract.[9]

Singing and acting

Funicello and Richard Tyler on The Danny Thomas Show(1959)

After the Mickey Mouse Club, she remained under contract with Disney for a time, with television roles in Zorro, Elfego Baca, andThe Horsemasters. For Zorro she played Anita Campillo in a three-episode storyline about a teen-aged girl who arrives in Los Angeles to visit a father who does not seem to exist. This role was reportedly a birthday present from Walt Disney, and the first of two different characters played opposite Guy Williams as Zorro. Annette also co-starred in Disney-produced movies such as The Shaggy Dog, Babes in Toyland, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Monkey’s Uncle.[10]

annette-funicello-150330Although uncomfortable being thought of as a singer, Funicello had a number of pop record hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly written by the Sherman Brothers and including: “Tall Paul,” “First Name Initial,” “O Dio Mio,” “Train of Love” (written by Paul Anka) and “Pineapple Princess.” They were released by Disney’s Buena Vista label. Annette also recorded “It’s Really Love” in 1959, a reworking of an earlier Paul Anka song called “Toot Sweet”; Anka reworked the song for a third time in 1962 as “Johnny’s Theme” and it opened The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on television for the next three decades. Paul Anka was noted to have a crush on her, however, Walt Disney overprotected Annette, which broke Paul’s heart. This resulted in his song “Puppy Love”, which was inspired by his hopeless romantic crush on Annette.

In an episode of the Disney anthology television series titled “Disneyland After Dark,” Funicello can be seen singing live atDisneyland. Walt Disney was reportedly a fan of 1950s pop star Teresa Brewer and tried to pattern Funicello’s singing in the same style. However, Funicello credits “the Annette sound” to her record producer, Tutti Camarata, who worked for Disney in that era. Camarata had her double-track her vocals, matching her first track as closely as possible on the second recording to achieve a fuller sound than her voice would otherwise produce.[citation needed] Early in her career, she appeared on the NBC interview program Here’s Hollywood.[9]

Funicello moved on from Disney to become a teen idol, starring in a series of “Beach Party” movies with Frankie Avalon for American International Pictures. These included Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), Pajama Party (1964),Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). The wholesome image earned in these films gained her a reference in the Grease song “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee.”

When she was cast in her first beach movie, Walt Disney requested that she only wear modest bathing suits and keep her navelcovered. However, she wore a pink two-piece in Beach Party, a white two-piece fishnet suit in the second film (Muscle Beach Party) and a blue and white bikini in the third (Bikini Beach). All three swimsuits bared her navel, particularly in Bikini Beach, where it is visible extensively during close up shots in a sequence early in the film when she meets Frankie Avalon’s “Potato Bug” character outside his tent.[11]

She and Avalon became iconic as “beach picture” stars and were re-united in 1987 for the Paramount film Back to the Beach, parodying their own surf-and-sand films two decades earlier. They toured the country as a singing act.

In 1979 Funicello began starring in a series of television commercials for Skippy peanut butter.[12]

Her autobiography, dictated to Patricia Romanowski and published in 1994, was A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story. The title was taken from a song from the Disney movie Cinderella. A made-for-TV movie based on the book, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story, was made in 1995. In the final scene, the actress portraying Funicello (Eva LaRue), using a wheelchair, turns away from the camera — turning back, it is Funicello herself, who delivered a message to a group of children. During this period, she produced a line of teddy bears for the Annette Funicello Collectible Bear Company.[5] The last collection in the series was made in 2004. She also had her own fragrance called “Cello, by Annette”.

In 1992, she was inducted as a Disney Legend.[13]

Personal life

Funicello’s best friend was actress and singer Shelley Fabares. She and Fabares had been friends since they were young teenagers in a catechism class, and Fabares was a bridesmaid at Funicello’s first wedding. She was also very close to fellow Mouseketeers Lonnie Burr (she later claimed in an autobiography that he was her first boyfriend during the first season of the Mickey Mouse Club), Sharon BairdDoreen TraceyCheryl Holdridge, her “Disney” co-star, Tommy Kirk, and her “Beach” movies co-star, Frankie Avalon.

Marriages and children

Funicello was married to her first husband, Jack Gilardi, from 1965 until 1981. They had three children: Gina (b. 1966), MV5BMTkwOTQyNTY2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTc3NDU2._V1._SX293_SY450_Jack, Jr. (b. 1970), and Jason (b. 1974). In 1986, she married California harness racing horse breeder/trainer Glen Holt.[5] The couple were frequently seen at Los Alamitos Race Course and at Fairplex in Pomona in the 1980s and 1990s attending harness horse races.

In March 2011, her Encino, California home caught fire. She suffered smoke inhalation, but was otherwise unharmed.[14]

After the fire, Funicello and Holt then began living full time at the modest ranch that they purchased decades earlier, located just south of Shafter, California (north of Bakersfield). That remained her primary residence until her death.[2]

In 1987, Funicello reunited with Frankie Avalon for a series of promotional concerts to promote their film Back to the Beach. She began to suffer from dizzy spells, but kept her failing health from her friends and family. In 1992, Funicello announced that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis.[15] She had kept her condition a secret for many years, but felt it necessary to go public to combat rumors that her impaired ability to walk was the result of alcoholism. In 1993, she opened the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders at the California Community Foundation.

On October 6, 2012, the CTV flagship current affairs program W5 profiled Funicello as an update on her after she had spent fifteen years out of the public eye. The profile revealed that her disease had severely damaged her nervous system; Funicello had lost the ability to walk in 2004, the ability to speak in 2009, and, at the time of the profile, required round-the-clock care to survive. In the profile, Holt and Fabares discussed Funicello’s current state, as well as the numerous medical interventions and treatments attempted to improve her condition.[16]

On April 8, 2013, Funicello died at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, California, at the age of 70, from complications due to her multiple sclerosis.[17]Commenting on her death, Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said,

“Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.” [18]

Sources: Wikipedia, Youtube, IMDB.com

 

Patty Andrews

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Patty is center in the photo

Patty Andrews, the last of the Andrews Sisters, the jaunty vocal trio whose immensely popular music became part of the patriotic fabric of World War II America, died on Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94. Lynda Wells, a niece, confirmed the death.

With their jazzy renditions of songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B),” “Rum and Coca-Cola”and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me),” Patty, Maxene and LaVerne Andrews sold war bonds, boosted morale on the home front, performed withBing Crosby and with theGlenn Miller Orchestra, made movies and entertained thousands of American troops overseas, for whom the women represented the loves and the land the troops had left behind.

imagesPatty, the youngest, was a soprano and sang lead; Maxene handled the high harmony; and LaVerne, the oldest, took the low notes. They began singing together as children; by the time they were teenagers they made up an accomplished vocal group. Modeling their act on the commercially successful Boswell Sisters, they joined a traveling revue and sang at county fairs and in vaudeville shows. Their big break came in 1937 when they were signed by Decca Records, but their first recording went nowhere.

Their second effort featured the popular standard “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” but it was the flip side that turned out to be pure gold. The song was a Yiddish show tune,“Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (Means That You’re Grand),” with new English lyrics bySammy Cahn, and the Andrews Sisters’ version, recorded in 1937, became the top-selling record in the country.

Other hits followed, and in 1940 they were signed by Universal Pictures. They appeared in more than a dozen films during the next seven years — sometimes just singing, sometimes also acting. They made their film debut in “Argentine Nights,” a 1940 comedy that starred the Ritz Brothers, and the next year appeared in three films with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello:“Buck Privates,” “In the Navy”and “Hold That Ghost.” Their film credits also include “Swingtime Johnny” (1943), “Hollywood Canteen” (1944) and the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby comedy “Road to Rio” (1947).

images-1After selling more than 75 million records, the Andrews Sisters broke up in 1953 when Patty decided to go solo. By 1956 they were together again, but musical tastes were changing and they found it hard to adapt. When LaVerne Andrews died of cancer in 1967, no suitable replacement could be found, and Patty and Maxene soon went their separate ways. Patty continued to perform solo, and Maxene joined the staff of a private college in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Patricia Marie Andrews was born on Feb. 16, 1918, in Minneapolis. Her father, Peter, was a Greek immigrant who changed his name from Andreos to Andrews when he came to America. Her mother, Olga, was Norwegian.

Like her older sisters, Patty learned to love music as a child (she also became a good tap dancer), and she did not have to be persuaded when Maxene suggested that the sisters form a trio in 1932. She was 14 when they began to perform in public.

As their fame and fortune grew, the sisters came to realize that the public saw them as an entity, not as individuals. In a 1974 interview with The New York Times, Patty explained what that was like: “When our fans used to see one of us, they’d always ask, ‘Where are your sisters?’ Every time we got an award, it was just one award for the three of us.” This could be irritating, she said with a touch of exasperation: “We’re not glued together.”

The Andrews Sisters re-entered the limelight in the early 1970s when Bette Midler releasedher own recording of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” modeled closely on theirs. It reached the Top 10, and its success led to several new compilations of the Andrews Sisters’ own hits.

pattyandrews-4_3_r536_c534The previous year, Patty Andrews had appeared in a West Coast musical called “Victory Canteen,” set during World War II. When the show was rewritten for Broadway and renamed “Over Here!,” the producers decided that the Andrews Sisters were the only logical choice for the leads. They hired Patty and lured Maxene back into show business as well. The show opened in March 1974 and was the sisters’ belated Broadway debut. It was also the last time they sang together.

The sisters got into a bitter money dispute with the producers and with each other, leading to the show’s closing in January 1975 and the cancellation of plans for a national tour. After that, the sisters pursued solo careers into the 1990s. They never reconciled and were still estranged when Maxene Andrews died in 1995.

Patty Andrews’s first marriage, to the movie producer Marty Melcher, lasted two years and ended in divorce in 1949. (Mr. Melcher later married Doris Day.) In 1951 she married Wally Weschler, who had been the sisters’ pianist and conductor and who later became her manager. They had no children. Mr. Weschler died in 2010. Ms. Andrews is survived by her foster daughter, Pam DuBois.

A final salute to the Andrews Sisters came in 1991 in the form of “Company B,” a ballet by the choreographer Paul Taylor subtitled “Songs Sung by the Andrews Sisters.” The work, which featured nine of the trio’s most popular songs, including “Rum and Coca-Cola” and, of course, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” underscored the enduring appeal of the three sisters from Minneapolis.

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Sources: ROBERT BERKVIST, YouTube, IMDB.com

Celeste Holm

Celeste Holm (April 29, 1917 – July 15, 2012) was an American stage, film and television actress, known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), as well as for her Oscar-nominated performances in Come to the Stable(1949) and All About Eve (1950) and originating the role of Ado Annie in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! (1943).

Born and raised in New York City, Holm grew up as an only child. Her mother, Jean Parke, was an American portrait artist and author; her father, Theodor Holm, was a Norwegian businessman whose company provided marine adjustment services for Lloyd’s of London. Because of her parents’ occupations, she traveled often during her youth and attended various schools in Holland, France and the United States. She graduated from University High School for Girls in Chicago, where she performed in many school stage productions. She then studied drama at the University of Chicago before becoming a stage actress in the late 1930s.

Holm’s first professional theatrical role was in a production of Hamlet starring Leslie Howard. Her first role on Broadway was a small part in 1938 comedy Gloriana, which lasted five performances. Her first major Broadway part was as Mary L. in William Saroyan‘s 1940 revival of The Time of Your Life co-starring fellow newcomer Gene Kelly. The role that got her the most recognition from critics and audiences was Ado Annie in the flagship Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein‘s Oklahoma! in 1943.

After she starred in the Broadway production of Bloomer Girl20th Century Fox signed Holm to a movie contract in 1946. She made her film debut that same year in Three Little Girls in Blue, making a startling entrance in a “Technicolor red” dress singing “Always a Lady,” a belting Ado Annie-type song, although the character was different—a lady. In 1947 she won an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in Gentleman’s Agreement. After her performance in All About Eve, however, Holm realized she preferred live theater to movie work, and only accepted a few select film roles over the following decade. The most successful of these were the comedy The Tender Trap (1955) and the musical High Society (1956), both of which co-starred Frank Sinatra. She starred as a professor-turned-reporter in New York City in the CBS television series Honestly, Celeste! (fall 1954) and was thereafter a panelist onWho Pays? (1959). She also appeared several times on ABC‘s The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom.

In My Own Little Corner

In 1958, she starred as a reporter in an unsold television pilot called The Celeste Holm Show, based on the book No Facilities for Women. Holm also starred in the musical The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall. In 1965, she played the Fairy Godmother alongside Lesley Ann Warren in the CBS production of Cinderella. In 1970-71, she was featured on theNBC sitcom Nancy, with Renne Jarrett, John Fink and Robert F. Simon. In the story line, Holm played Abby Townsend, the press secretary of the First Lady of the United Statesand the chaperon of Jarrett’s character, Nancy Smith, the President’s daughter.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Holm did more screen acting, with roles in films such as Tom Sawyer and Three Men and a Baby, and in television series (often as a guest star) such as ColumboThe Eleventh HourArchie Bunker’s Place and Falcon Crest. In 1979, she played the role of First Lady Florence Harding in the television mini-series,Backstairs at the White House. She was a regular on the ABC soap opera Loving, appearing first in 1986 in the role of Lydia Woodhouse and again as Isabelle Dwyer Alden #2 from 1991 to 1992. She last appeared on television in the CBS television series Promised Land (1996–99).

Holm received numerous honors during her lifetime, including the 1968 Sarah Siddons Award for distinguished achievement in Chicago theatre; she was appointed to the National Arts Council by then-President Ronald Reagan, appointed Knight, First Class of the Order of St. Olav by King Olav of Norway in 1979,[1] and inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1992. She remained active for social causes as a spokesperson for UNICEF, and for occasional professional engagements. From 1995 she was Chairman of the Board of Arts Horizons, a not-for-profit arts-in-education organization.

“I Can’t Say No”

In 2006, Holm was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the SunDeis Film Festival at Brandeis University.[2]

Holm was a guest at the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Aberdeen, Maryland. Some of the movies in which she appeared were screened at the festival, and the un-aired television pilot for Meet Me in St. Louis was shown. She received an honorary award during the dinner banquet at the close of the event.

Personal life

Attending the Academy Awards in 1988

  • Holm’s first marriage was to Ralph Nelson in 1936.[3] Their son, Internet pioneer and sociologist Ted Nelson (né Theodor Holm Nelson; born 1937), was raised by his maternal grandparents. The marriage ended in 1939. In his 2010 memoir, Possiplex, her son, credited with coining the term “hypertext”, described this and other choices as “entirely the right decisions”. He reportedly did not name his mother in the book.[4]
  • Holm married Francis Emerson Harding Davies, an English auditor, on January 7, 1940. Davies was a Roman Catholic, and she was received into the Roman Catholic Church for the purposes of their 1940 wedding; the marriage was dissolved on May 8, 1945.[5]
  • From 1946 to 1952, Holm was married to airline public relations executive A. Schuyler Dunning, with whom she had a second son, businessman Daniel Dunning.[6]
  • From 1961 to 1996, she was married to fellow thespian Wesley Addy (1913–1996), until his death at age 83 in 1996.
  • On April 29, 2004, her 87th birthday, Holm married opera singer Frank Basile, age 41.[7] The couple met in October 1999 at a fundraiser at which Basile was hired to sing. Soon after their marriage, Holm and Basile sued to overturn the irrevocable trust that was created in 2002 by Daniel Dunning, Holm’s younger son. The trust was ostensibly set up to shelter Holm’s financial assets from taxes, although Basile contended the real purpose of the trust was to keep him away from her money. The lawsuit began a five-year battle with her sons, which cost millions of dollars, and according to an article in The New York Times, left Holm and her husband with a fragile hold on their home, which Holm purchased for $10,000 cash in 1953 from her film earnings, and which is now believed to be worth at least $2,000,000

According to her husband, Holm had been treated for memory loss since 2002, suffered skin cancer, bleeding ulcers and a collapsed lung, and had hip replacements and pacemakers.[4][8]

In June 2012, Holm was admitted to New York’s Roosevelt Hospital with dehydration. She suffered a heart attack on July 13 in the facility, dying at home on July 15[9] where she chose to spend her final days. She is survived by husband Frank Basile and her sons.[10][11][12]

 Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, IMDB.com, NMDB.com

Filmography

Stage appearances

  • Gloriana [Broadway] – Cast as Lady Mary. (1938)
  • Another Sun [Broadway] – Cast as Maria. (1940)
  • The Return of the Vagabond [Broadway] – Cast as His Daughter. (1940)
  • The Time of Your Life [Broadway] – Cast as Mary L. (1940)
  • Eight O’Clock Tuesday [Broadway] – Cast as Marcia Godden. (1941)
  • My Fair Ladies [Broadway] – Cast as Lady Keith-Odlyn. (1941)
  • Papa is All [Broadway] – Cast as Emma. (1942)
  • All the Comforts of Home [Broadway] – Cast as Fifi Oritanski. (1942)
  • The Damask Cheek [Broadway] – Cast as Calla Longstreth. (1942)
  • Oklahoma! [Broadway] – Original Production – Cast as Ado Annie Carnes. (1943)
  • Bloomer Girl [Broadway] – Original Production – Cast as Evelina. (1944)
  • Affairs of State [Broadway] – Cast as Irene Elliott. (1950)
  • The King and I [Broadway] – Original Production – Cast as Anna Leonowens [Replacement]. (1951)
  • Anna Christie [Broadway] – Cast as Anna Christopherson. (1952)
  • His and Hers [Broadway] – Cast as Maggie Palmer. (1954)
  • Interlock [Broadway] – Cast as Mrs. Price. (1958)
  • Third Best Sport [Broadway] – Cast as Helen Sayre. (1958)
  • Invitation to a March [Broadway] – Original Production – Cast as Camilla Jablonski. (1960)
  • Mame [Broadway] – Original Production – Cast as Mame Dennis [Replacement]. (1966)
  • Candida [Broadway] -Cast as Candida. (1970)
  • Babylove [Replacement].
  • The Grass Harp [Broadway] – Original Production. (1971)
  • Mama [Broadway] – Closed on the road. (1972)
  • Habeas Corpus [Broadway] – Cast as Lady Rumpers – A Pillar of the Empire. (1974)
  • The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall [Broadway] – Original Broadway Production – Cast as Julia Faysle Headmistress.(1979)
  • I Hate Hamlet [Broadway] – Cast as Lillian Troy. (1991)
  • Allegro [Off-Broadway] – Encores! Concert – Cast as Grandma Taylor. (1994)

TV appearances

Farewell Etta James

Etta James, whose powerful, versatile and emotionally direct voice could enliven the raunchiest blues as well as the subtlest love songs, most indelibly in her signature hit, “At Last,” died Friday morning in Riverside, Calif. She was 73.

Her manager, Lupe De Leon, said that the cause was complications of leukemia. Ms. James, who died at Riverside Community Hospital, had been undergoing treatment for some time for a number of conditions, including leukemia and dementia. She also lived in Riverside.

Ms. James was not easy to pigeonhole. She is most often referred to as a rhythm and blues singer, and that is how she made her name in the 1950s with records like “Good Rockin’ Daddy.” She is in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.

She was also comfortable, and convincing, singing pop standards, as she did in 1961 with “At Last,” which was written in 1941 and originally recorded by Glenn Miller’s orchestra. And among her four Grammy Awards (including a lifetime-achievement honor in 2003) was one for best jazz vocal performance, which she won in 1995 for the album “Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday.”

Regardless of how she was categorized, she was admired. Expressing a common sentiment, Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in 1990 that she had “one of the great voices in American popular music, with a huge range, a multiplicity of tones and vast reserves of volume.”

“At Last”

For all her accomplishments, Ms. James had an up-and-down career, partly because of changing audience tastes but largely because of drug problems. She developed a heroin habit in the 1960s; after she overcame it in the 1970s, she began using cocaine. She candidly described her struggles with addiction and her many trips to rehab in her autobiography, “Rage to Survive,” written with David Ritz (1995).

Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles on Jan. 25, 1938. Her mother, Dorothy Hawkins, was 14 at the time; her father was long gone, and Ms. James never knew for sure who he was, although she recalled her mother telling her that he was the celebrated pool player Rudolf Wanderone, better known as Minnesota Fats. She was reared by foster parents and moved to San Francisco with her mother when she was 12.

She began singing at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles at 5 and turned to secular music as a teenager, forming a vocal group with two friends. She was 15 when she made her first record, “Roll With Me Henry,” which set her own lyrics to the tune of Hank Ballard and the Midnighters’ recent hit “Work With Me Annie.” When some disc jockeys complained that the title was too suggestive, the name was changed to “The Wallflower,” although the record itself was not.

“The Wallflower” rose to No. 2 on the rhythm-and-blues charts in 1954. As was often the case in those days with records by black performers, a toned-down version was soon recorded by a white singer and found a wider audience: Georgia Gibbs’s version, with the title and lyric changed to “Dance With Me, Henry,” was a No. 1 pop hit in 1955. (Its success was not entirely bad news for Ms. James. She shared the songwriting royalties with Mr. Ballard and the bandleader and talent scout Johnny Otis, who had arranged for her recording session. (Mr. Otis died on Tuesday.)

“I’d Rather Go Blind”

In 1960 Ms. James was signed by Chess Records, the Chicago label that was home to Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and other leading lights of black music. She quickly had a string of hits, including “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “Trust in Me” and “At Last,” which established her as Chess’s first major female star.

She remained with Chess well into the 1970s, reappearing on the charts after a long absence in 1967 with the funky and high-spirited “Tell Mama.” In the late ’70s and early ’80s she was an opening act for the Rolling Stones.

After decades of touring, recording for various labels and drifting in and out of the public eye, Ms. James found herself in the news in 2009 after Beyoncé Knowles recorded a version of “At Last” closely modeled on hers. (Ms. Knowles played Ms. James in the 2008 movie “Cadillac Records,” a fictionalized account of the rise and fall of Chess.) Ms. Knowles also performed “At Last” at an inaugural ball for President Obama in Washington.

When the movie was released, Ms. James had kind words for Ms. Knowles’s portrayal. But in February 2009, referring specifically to the Washington performance, she told an audience, “I can’t stand Beyoncé,” and threatened to “whip” the younger singer for singing “At Last.” She later said she had been joking, but she did add that she wished she had been invited to sing the song herself for the new president.

Ms. James’s survivors include her husband of 42 years, Artis Mills; two sons, Donto and Sametto James; and four grandchildren.

Though her life had its share of troubles to the end — her husband and sons were locked in a long-running battle over control of her estate, which was resolved in her husband’s favor only weeks before her death — Ms. James said she wanted her music to transcend unhappiness rather than reflect it.

“Something’s Got A Hold On Me”

“A lot of people think the blues is depressing,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1992, “but that’s not the blues I’m singing. When I’m singing blues, I’m singing life. People that can’t stand to listen to the blues, they’ve got to be phonies.”

Sources: PETER KEEPNEWS, New York Times, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com

Jane Froman

Jane Froman (November 10, 1907 – April 22, 1980) was an American singer and actress. During her thirty-year career, Froman performed on stage, radio and television despite chronic injuries that she sustained from a 1943 plane crash. The 1952 film, With a Song in My Heart, is based on her life.

“I’ll Walk Alone”

Froman was born in University CityMissouri, the daughter of Elmer Ellsworth Froman and Anna T. Barcafer. Her childhood andadolescence was spent in the small Missouri town of Clinton. She attended Columbia College (Missouri) in the city of Columbia, which she considered her hometown. Her father left her mother when Jane was about 5 years old. She developed a stutter around this time, which plagued her all of her life, except when she sang.[1]

Although she had classical voice training, early in her career she was drawn to the songs of the era’s songwriters, George and Ira GershwinCole Porter, and Irving Berlin, who were inspiring a resurgence in popular music. She met vaudeville performer Don Ross when they auditioned for the same job at WLW radio station in Cincinnati. There, she joined Henry Thies’ orchestra and was featured vocal on a number of Thies’ Victor recordings. Convinced she was star material, Ross became her unofficial manager and persuaded her to move to Chicago where he worked for NBC radio. In 1933 Froman moved to New York City where she appeared onChesterfield‘s “Music that Satisfies” radio program with Bing Crosby. She married Don Ross in September 1933. She joined theZiegfeld Follies the same year where she befriended Fannie Brice. In 1934, at age 27, she became the top-polled “girl singer.” The famous composer and producer, Billy Rose, when asked to name the top ten female singers, is reported to have replied, “Jane Froman and nine others.”

She was severely injured by an aircraft crash on February 22, 1943, when a USO plane, a Boeing 314 named Yankee Clipper (tail number NC18603) was carrying Froman and 38 others. When Yankee Clipper was banking into a turn for approach, a wingtip caught a wave, whereupon she crashed into the Tagus River in LisbonPortugal. One of fifteen survivors, Froman sustained severe injuries: a cut below the left knee nearly severing her leg, multiple fractures of her right arm, and a compound fracture of her right leg that doctors threatened to amputate. Froman had given her seat to another passenger, Tamara Drasin, who was killed in the crash, an action which her biographer Ilene Stone said “bothered her her whole life.”[1]

“I Only Have Eyes For You”

The co-pilot, John Curtis Burn, who broke his back in the crash, fashioned a makeshift raft from portions of the wrecked plane to help keep himself and Froman afloat. After being rescued, they were sent to the same convalescent home, where they battled their long recoveries together. After she divorced Don Ross in February 1948, Jane Froman and John Burn were married, only to be divorced eight years later (March 12, 1948 – 1956).

“Get Happy”

Froman underwent 39 operations over the years. She fought amputation and wore a leg brace the remainder of her life. However, she returned to Europe and entertained American troops in 1945. Despite having to walk with crutches, she gave 95 shows throughout Europe. During the 40s Froman became addicted to painkillers. Although she successfully underwent detoxification, she later had problems with alcohol addiction.

Froman’s life story was the subject of the movie With a Song in My Heart (1952), starring Susan Hayward as Froman. Froman was deeply involved in the film’s production: she supplied Hayward’s singing voice and served as the film’s technical advisor. The Capitol album of songs from the movie was the number one best-selling album of 1952 and remained in the catalogue for many years. DRG recently re-issued the album on a compact disc along with the 1952 revival cast album of Pal Joey, in which Froman sang the role made famous by Vivienne Segal, Vera Simpson.

A Choice CD called Jane Froman on Capitol is a collection of her Capitol Records singles and tracks from albums. From 1952-1955 Jane starred on CBS-TV. Her first program,USA Canteen, had servicemen in the audience. The program was renamed The Jane Froman Show and the format was changed to a twice weekly 15 minute program on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After the show was canceled in 1956, Froman appeared on various programs for the next few years. She also appeared on stage in Las Vegas. Froman retired to her home town of Columbia in 1961 where she married an old college friend, Rowland Hawes Smith (June 22, 1962 – April 22, 1980). She continued the volunteer work for which she was known throughout her career. In 1980, she died of cardiac arrest caused by chronic heart and lung disease in Columbia. She is buried at the Columbia Cemetery.

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com

Sophie Tucker

Sophie Tucker (13 January 1886 – 9 February 1966) was a Russian/Ukrainian-born American singer and actress. Known for her stentorian delivery of comical and risqué songs, she was one of the most popular entertainers in America during the first half of the 20th century. She was widely known by the nickname “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.”

“Some Of These Days”

Tucker was born Sonya Kalish (Russian Соня Калиш) to a Jewish family in Tulchyn, Ukraine. Her family emigrated to the United States when she was an infant, and settled in Hartford, Connecticut. The family changed its name to Abuza, and her parents opened arestaurant.

She started singing for tips in her family’s restaurant. In 1903, at the age of 17, she was briefly married to Louis Tuck, from which she decided to change her name to Tucker. She bore a son with Tuck, named Bert. (She would marry twice more in her life, but neither marriage lasted more than five years.)

Tucker played piano and sang burlesque and vaudeville tunes, at first in blackface. She later said that this was at the insistence of theatre managers, who said she was “too fat and ugly” to be accepted by an audience in any other context. She even sang songs that acknowledged her weight, such as “Nobody Loves a Fat Girl, But Oh How a Fat Girl Can Love”.

She made a name for herself in a style that was known at the time as a “Coon Shouter“, performing African American influenced songs. Not content with performing in the simpleminstrel traditions, Tucker hired some of the best African American singers of the time to give her lessons, and hired African American composers to write songs for her act.

Tucker made her first appearance in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1909, but did not last long there because Florenz Ziegfeld‘s other female stars soon refused to share the spotlight with the popular Tucker.

“The Man I Love”

William Morris, the founder of the William Morris Agency booked Tucker fresh off her Follies debut at his new American Music Hall. At a 1909 appearance, the luggage containing Tucker’s makeup kit was stolen shortly before the show, and she hastily went on stage without her customary blackface. Tucker was a bigger hit without her makeup than with it, and, at the advice of Morris, she never wore blackface again. She did, however, continue to draw much of her material from African American writers as well as African Americanculture, singing in a ragtime– and blues-influenced style, becoming known for a time as “The Mary Garden of Ragtime”, a reference to a famous operatic soprano of the era.

“The Lady Is A Tramp”

Tucker made several popular recordings. They included “Some of These Days“, which came out in 1911 on Edison Records. The tune, written by Shelton Brooks, was a hit, and became Tucker’s theme song. Later, it was the title of her 1945 autobiography.

In 1921, Tucker hired pianist and songwriter Ted Shapiro as her accompanist and musical director, a position he would keep throughout her career. Besides writing a number of songs for Tucker, Shapiro became part of her stage act, playing piano on stage while she sang, and exchanging banter and wisecracks with her in between numbers. Tucker remained a popular singer through the 1920s, and hired stars such as Mamie Smith and Ethel Waters to give her lessons.

In 1925, Jack Yellen wrote one of her most famous songs, “My Yiddishe Momme“. The song was performed in large American cities where there were sizable Jewish audiences. Tucker explained, “Even though I loved the song and it was a sensational hit every time I sang it, I was always careful to use it only when I knew the majority of the house would understand Yiddish. However, you didn’t have to be a Jew to be moved by ‘My Yiddish Momme.’ ‘Mother’ in any language means the same thing.” She also made the first of her many movie appearances in the 1929 sound picture Honky Tonk. During the 1930s, Tucker brought elements ofnostalgia for the early years of 20th century into her show. She was billed as “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” as her heartysexual appetite was a frequent subject of her songs, unusual for female performers of the era.

“He Hadn’t Up Till Yesterday”

“My Yiddishe Mama”

Such was Tucker’s notoriety and cultural influence that, as late as 1963, three years before her death, Paul McCartney jokingly introduced the song “Til There Was You” (from The Music Man) at The Beatles‘ Royal Command Performance at The Prince of Wales Theatre in London on 4 November by saying the song “had also been recorded by our favourite American group, Sophie Tucker”.[2] in reference to Tucker’s notorious girth (Tucker never recorded the song). McCartney also used the same quip, this time for an American audience, to introduce The Beatles’ performance of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ as the finale of their set for The Ed Sullivan Show at The Deauville Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida on 16 February 1964. As there was a lot less audience reaction to the line in Miami Beach, John Lennon provided the laughs.