Friday, May 31, 2019


On this day some 111 years ago, actor Don Ameche was born. He was really an underrated actor who never really got his due until later in life. Ameche was born Dominic Felix Amici in Kenosha, Wisconsin on May 31,1908. His father, Felice Amici, was a bartender from Italy from Montemonaco, Ascoli Piceno, Marche. His mother, Barbara Etta Hertel, was of Scottish, Irish, and German ancestry. He had three brothers, Umberto (Bert), James (Jim Ameche), and Louis, and four sisters, Elizabeth, Catherine, Mary and Anna. Ameche

Ameche was married to Honore Prendergast from 1932 until her death in 1986. They had six children. One, Ron Ameche, owned a restaurant, "Ameche's Pumpernickel" in Coralville, Iowa. He had two daughters, Connie and Bonnie. Ameche's younger brother, Jim Ameche, was also a well-known actor. His brother Bert was an architect who worked for the U.S. Navy in Port Hueneme, California, and then the U.S. Postal Service in Los Angeles, California.

Ameche had done well in college dramatics at Marquette University, and when a lead actor for a stock company production of Excess Baggage did not turn up, a friend persuaded him to stand in for the missing actor. He enjoyed the experience and got a juvenile lead in Jerry For Short in New York, followed by a tour in vaudeville with Texas Guinan until she dropped him from the act, dismissing him as "too stiff". He made his film debut in 1935, and by the late 1930s, had established himself as a major actor in Hollywood. He appeared in such films as Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938), and as the title character in The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939). It led to the use of the word, "ameche", as slang for telephone in common catchphrases, as noted by Mike Kilen in the Iowa City Gazette (December 8, 1993): "The film prompted a generation to call people to the telephone with the phrase: 'You're wanted on the Ameche.'" In the 1940 film Go West, Groucho Marx proclaims, "Telephone? This is 1870, Don Ameche hasn't invented the telephone yet". While in the 1941 film Ball of Fire, Barbara Stanwyck's character discusses the "ameche" slang usage, "Do you know what this means: I'll get you on the Ameche."

In 1940, he was voted the 21st-most-popular star in Hollywood. In 1944 he reportedly earned $247,677 for 1943, making him the second highest earner at 20th Century Fox after Spyros Skouras. Ameche played so many roles based on real people that on one of his radio broadcasts, Fred Allen (who shares a birthday with Ameche)  joked, "Pretty soon, Don Ameche will be playing Don Ameche." Soon afterwards, in It's in the Bag! (1945), which starred Allen, Ameche indeed played himself in a bit part.

Don Ameche continued to work on television and movies until his death from cancer in 1993...

Friday, May 24, 2019


It's hard to believe but jazz genius Duke Ellington died on this day 45 years ago. This obituary appeared in The New York Times on May 25th...

Duke Ellington, who expanded the literature of American music with compositions and performances that drew international critical praise and brought listening and dancing pleasure to two generations, died here yesterday at the age of 75.

He entered the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center's Harkness Pavilion at the end of March for treatment of cancer of both lungs, a condition that was complicated last Wednesday when he developed pneumonia.

At his death, the phrase “beyond category,” which Edward Kennedy Ellington had used as his highest form of praise for others, could quite literally be applied to the Duke himself, whose works were played and praised In settings as diverse as the old Cotton Club, Carnegie Hall and Westminster Abbey,

Mr. Ellington was born in Washington on April 29, 1899, the son of James Edward Ellington and the former Daisy Kennedy. His father was blueprint maker for the Navy Department, who also worked occasionally as a butler, sometimes at the White House.

In high school, the Duke, whose nickname was given to him by an admiring neighborhood friend when he was years old, was torn between his interests in painting and in music. He won a poster contest sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and in 1917 was offered a scholarship by the Pratt Institute of Applied Art. He turned it down, however, to devote himself to music.

He wrote his first composi“Soda Fountain Rag,” “en, while he was working after school as a soda jerk at thePoodle Dog Cafe. Some piano lessons he had received at theto age of 7 comprised the only formal musical education hehad. He learned by listening to the “two‐fisted piano play‐‐‐” of the period, paying particular attention to Sticky Mack, Doc Perry, James P. Johnson and Willie (The Lion) Smith.

By the time he was 20 he was making $150 a week playing with his small band at parties and dances. In this year, 1919, Sonny Greer became Mr. Ellington's drummer and remained with him until 1950, setting a pattern of longevity that was to be followed by Ellington sidemen. many

In 1922 Wilbur Sweatman, then a successful bandleader, asked Mr. Greer to join his band in New York. Mr. Ellingtop and three other members the group went along, too, ‘3’ but jobs in New York were so scarce that soon they were all back in ‘Washington. However, the visit gave Mr. Ellington an opportunity to hear the Harlem pianists who became prime influence on his own playing — Willie (The Lion) Smith, James P. Johnson and Johnson's protege Fats Waller.

At Mr. Waller's urging, Diike Ellington and his men returned to New,York in 1923. This time they got a job playing at Barron's in Harlem with Elmer Snowden, the group's banjoist, as nominal leader. When they moved downtown to the Hollywood Club (later known as the Kentucky Club) at Broadway and 49th Street, Mr. Snowden left the group and Mr. Ellington assumed the leadership.

During the four and a half years that Ellington's Washingtonians remained at the Kentucky Club, the group made its first records and ‘ did its first radio broadcasts. Late in 1927, when the band had’ expanded to 10 men, the Cotton Club, gaudy Harlem showplace, found itself in sudden need of an orchestra when King Oliver, whose band was scheduled to open there, decided he had not been offered enough money.

Mr. Ellington got thebooking, but first he had to be released from a theater engagement in Philadelphia. This was arranged when the operators of the Cotton Club asked some associates in Philadelphia to call on the theater manager with a proposition: “Be big or you'll be dead,” He was big and Duke Ellington began five‐year association with the Cotton Club.

A crucial factor in spreading the fame of the Ellington hand was a nightly radio broadcast from the Cotton Club that was heard across the country, introduced by the Ellington signature theme “East St. Louis Toodle‐Oo,” with Bubber Miley's growling trumpet setting the mood for the stomping and often exotic music that followed. Mr. Ellington's unique use of growling brass (identified as his “jungle” style) and the rich variety of tonal colors that he drew from his band brought musicians of all schools to the Cotton Club.

In 1930 the Ellington band appeared in its first featurelength movie, “Check and Double Check,” and in 1933 it went ‐overseas for the first time, to ‘Britain and Europe. During the thirties, the band appeared in several more films —“Murder at the Vanities,” “Belle of the Nineties” and The Hit Parade” — and made a second European tour ‘ in 1939.

When the furor over swing bands rose in the late thirties, the Ellington band was overshadowed by the glare of publicity that fell on the bands of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller. But as the swing era faded, the Ellington band hit one of its peaks in 1941 and 1942, years when all the greatest of Mr. Ellington's star sidemen (except Bubber Miley) were together in the band and when Mr. Ellington himself was in an extraordinarily creative. period as a composer.

By 1943, however, he was leaving the early phases of his career, behind him and turning to the extended compositions and concert presentations that would be an increasingly important part of his work.

In the fifties, when Interest in big bands dropped So low that all but a handful gave up completely or worked on a part‐time basis, Mr. Ellington kept his band together even when the economic basis became very shaky. The fortunes of the Ellington band started to rise again in 1956 when, at the Newport Jazz Festival, a performance of a composition Mr. Ellington had written 20 years before, “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue,” propelled by a 27chorus. solo by the tenor ,saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, Set off dancing in the aisles that reminded observers of the joyous excitement that Benny Goodman had generated at’ New York's Paramount Theater in the thirties.

During the next 15 years, Mr. Ellington's orchestra was heard in all areas of the world, touring the Middle East, the Far East and the Soviet Union under the auspices of the State Department, playing in Africa, South America and Europe. Mr. Ellington wrote !scores for five ‘films — “Paris !Blues,” “Anatomy of a Murder,” “Assault on a Queen,” “Change of Mind” and a German picture, “Janus.”

He composed a ballet, “The River,” in 1970 for Alvin Ailey and the American Ballet Theater. In 1963 he wrote a pageant of black history, “My People,” which was presented in Chicago. He had also written for the theater earlier in his career —a musical, “Jump for Joy,” produced in Los Angeles in 1941, and a score with lyrics by, John Latouche for “Beggar's Holiday,” an adaptation of John Gay's “Beggar's Opera” on Broadway in 1947.

Honors were heaped on him. In 1969, at a celebration of his 70th birthday at the ‐White House, President Nixon awarded him. the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Georges Pompidon of ‘France in 1973 gave ‘him the Legion of ??

Through all ‐this, Mr. Ellington kept up the steady pace of composing and performing and traveling that he had maintained since the late nineteentwenties. Everywhere he went, his electric piano went with him, for there was scarcely a day in his life when he did not compose something.

“You know how it is,” he said. “You go home expecting to go right to bed. But then, on the way, you go past the piano and there's a flirtation. It flirts with you. So, you sit down and try out a couple of chords and when you look up, it's 7 A.M.”

Quite logically Mr. Ellihgton called his autobiography, published in 1973, “Music Is My Mistress.”

“Music is my mistress,” he wrote, “and she plays second fiddle to no one.”

Mr. Ellington married Edna Thompson in 1918. Their son, Mercer, was born the following year. The couple were divorced in 1930 and Mr. Ellington's second m'arriage, to Mildred Dixon, a dancer at the Cotton Club, also ended in divorce.

Surviving besides his son, Mercer, is his widow, Bea (Evie) Ellis; a sister, Ruth, and three grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held on Monday at 1 P.M. at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Aveye and 112th Street.

Mr. Ellington's body went on view last night at the Walter B. Cooke funeral chapel at Third Avenue and 85th Street. Viewing hours will continue between 8 A.M. and 10 P.M. today and tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


I will be reviewing this book soon, but secure your copy now. It is an excellent look at the life of a child of Hollywood royality...

Seen from the Wings:
Luise Rainer. My Mother, The Journey
(Publication Date: June 3, 2019 by BookBaby)

There have been several autobiographies written by the children of illustrious film actresses―Christina and Joan Crawford, Maria Riva and Marlene Dietrich, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

Each book lays bare the stark reality of being raised in Hollywood, where the glamour and drama of being raised by world-renowned parents is tempered by the pressure to succeed in life and love in the shadow of Hollywood perfection.

Now, add to that list the story of Francesca Knittel Bowyer, daughter of Luise Rainer ― the first woman to win back-to-back Oscars® (The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937) - before the age of 30. Rainer died at the age of 104 in December of 2014, just two weeks short of her 105th birthday.

In Seen From The Wings: Luise Rainer. My Mother, My Journey, Knittel Bowyer describes her desperate need to become independent from a mother who was almost never pleased, especially when she felt upstaged, and chronicles her journey to find her life's purpose and to define herself as an individual.

Knittel Bowyer's is a life woven with adventure. She went from theater actress to editor at Harper’s Bazaar Magazine; recognizably as the first Devil Wears Prada girl, then from art dealer to executive at a highly prestigious advertising agency.

Meanwhile, she worked tirelessly as a devoted and sometimes single mother raising two daughters and while escaping abusive relationships and marriages.

In this poignant, true story of a daughter, wife and mother who escapes from the trappings of her golden upbringing in the villas of Europe and the mansions of Beverly Hills, Knittel Bowyer reveals how her imperious mother and gentle-hearted father affected her relationships, choices and happiness.

Seen From The Wings is not simply about her mother, who has always been the key factor in her life, but rather about her mother's influence on her life. Luise Rainer weaves her way through the story with threads of possessive love, jealousies and passionate opinions about her daughter's every move.

This is a story of the fine line between love and hate and of the importance of loyalty. It is a story about people whose lives and minds are so different, yet whose worlds and persuasions follow a parallel path. There are no mistakes, only learning experiences and a host of stories to tell.

All these life experiences resulted in Francesca Knittel Bowyer catapulting herself into a new and positive life path of faith, peace and self-acceptance...

You can purchase the book from Amazon HERE

Monday, May 20, 2019


Jane Wyman could have had a bestseller.

But the Oscar-winning actress wouldn’t dish about her ex-husband. Not when Ronald Reagan was governor of California and not when he made history as the nation’s first divorced president.

Before Reagan, men with failed marriages were considered too tainted for the White House. Nelson Rockefeller’s divorce may have cost him the Republican primary nomination for president in 1964.

But by the time Reagan took the oath in 1981, with Nancy Reagan by his side in her royal blue suit and hat, the country was ready for the first lady to be a second wife.

And Wyman didn’t get in the way, though she surely knew plenty from her nine years of marriage to Reagan during Hollywood’s heyday.

Their time together — which included the birth of one child, the adoption of another and the death of a third — received little attention. Reagan never mentioned her in public. And Wyman got no more than a paragraph in his autobiography:

“The same year I made the Knute Rockne movie, I married Jane Wyman, another contract player at Warners. Our marriage produced two wonderful children, Maureen and Michael, but it didn’t work out, and in 1948, we divorced.”

That’s it.

And she honored him with similar silence.

Asked in 1968, right after Reagan became California’s 33rd governor, why she never spoke of her ex-husband’s political transformation and new starring role, Wyman was wry and succinct.

“It’s not because I’m bitter or because I don’t agree with him politically,” she said in 1968. “I’ve always been a registered Republican. But it’s bad taste to talk about ex-husbands and ex-wives, that’s all. Also, I don’t know a damned thing about politics.”

Bad taste. Remember when there was such a thing?

But today, rather than a former film actor, we have an ex-reality-TV star in the White House. And his leading ladies are going at it, reality-show style.

It’s a good time to remember that as recently as the 1980s, when the first Trump union made Donald and Ivana the toast of Manhattan’s gilded crowd, Wyman was exercising Victorian decorum. Even if decorum didn’t describe the Hollywood of the 1930s and ’40s.

Reagan played off his good looks and broad-shouldered Everyman charm well into his old age. But his early days in Hollywood? A parade of biographies and tell-alls describe him as a player.

From Elizabeth Taylor to Lana Turner to Marilyn Monroe, the Gipper was a guy who allegedly got around.

Wyman and Reagan fell in love on the set. Their marriage in 1940 was his first and her third. They divorced in 1949, after Wyman reportedly fell in love with another co-star, Lew Ayres.

She didn’t marry Ayres, but her part in “Johnny Belinda” helped her win an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1948. She went on to marry two more times — both times to the same man — before finally giving up on nuptials. She remained a star on the small screen, starring in the television series “Falcon Crest,” as her third ex-husband won the Cold War and championed conservative family values.

She finally broke her silence about Reagan when he died in 2004.

“America has lost a great president,” Wyman said. “And a great, kind and gentle man.”

Wyman died three years later in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at the age of 90. Or maybe it was 93. She wasn’t that forthcoming about her birthday either...

Friday, May 17, 2019


Here is a great vintage advertisement that featured Clara Bow. She was selling eye make-up that would give you eyes that looked just like the "It" girl! This advertisement was from 1927. At the time, Clara Bow was appearing in the Paramount silent move Children Of Divorce...

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


Actor and comedian Tim Conway, best known for his work on "The Carol Burnett Show," died on Tuesday morning in Los Angeles, according to his publicist.
Conway was 85.

He had been battling a longtime illness prior to his death, Howard Bragman, Conway's representative, told us. He was not suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease, Bragman said.

Conway won three Emmys for co-starring in "The Carol Burnett Show," which ran from 1967 to 1978, and a fourth as a member of its writing team. He also briefly headlined his own variety series and co-starred in several Disney live-action comedies during the '70s, such as "The Apple Dumpling Gang" and "The Shaggy D.A."

In his later years, Conway did numerous guest appearances -- winning additional Emmys for roles in the sitcoms "Coach" and "30 Rock" -- and voiceover work in animation, including "SpongeBob Squarepants."

Conway's improvisational antics frequently cracked up his co-stars, foremost among them Harvey Korman.

"I'm heartbroken. He was one in a million, not only as a brilliant comedian but as a loving human being," Burnett said about Conway in a statement  on Tuesday. "I cherish the times we had together both on the screen and off. He'll be in my heart forever."

Burnett will dedicate a previously scheduled performance of her one-woman show, "An Evening of Laughter and Reflection Where the Audience Asks Questions," to Conway's memory on Tuesday night in North Carolina.

Conway's longtime colleague, Vicki Lawrence, also paid tribute.

"Hysterical, crazy, bold, fearless, humble, kind, adorable... all synonyms for Tim Conway," Lawrence said in a statement. "I am so lucky to ever have shared a stage with him. Harvey and Tim are together again...the angels are laughing out loud tonight."

Conway was married twice, first to Mary Anne Dalton from 1961 to 1978 and together they had six children. He is survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Charlene Fusco.

The family has asked that instead of gifts, donations be made to The Lou Ruvo Brain Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada...


Monday, May 13, 2019


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Doris Day, the honey-voiced singer and actress whose film dramas, musicals and innocent sex comedies made her a top star in the 1950s and ’60s and among the most popular screen actresses in history, has died. She was 97.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed Day died early Monday at her Carmel Valley, California, home. The foundation said she was surrounded by close friends.

“Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in her death,” the foundation said in an emailed statement.

The foundation also said she requested “no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker.”

With her lilting contralto, wholesome blonde beauty and glowing smile, Day = was a top box office draw and recording artist known for such films as “Pillow Talk” and “That Touch of Mink” and for such songs as “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” from the Alfred Hitchcock film “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

But over time, she became more than a name above the title: Right down to her cheerful, alliterative stage name, she stood for a time of innocence and G-rated love, a parallel world to her contemporary Marilyn Monroe. The running joke, attributed to both Groucho Marx and actor-composer Oscar Levant, was that they had known Day “before she was a virgin.”

Day herself was no Doris Day, by choice and by hard luck.

In “Pillow Talk,” released in 1959 and her first of three films with Rock Hudson, she proudly caught up with what she called “the contemporary in me.” Her 1976 tell-all book, “Doris Day: Her Own Story,” chronicled her money troubles and three failed marriages, contrasting with the happy publicity of her Hollywood career.

“I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-Shoes, America’s Virgin, and all that, so I’m afraid it’s going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together,” she wrote.

She never won an Academy Award, but Day was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, as George W. Bush declared it “a good day for America when Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff of Evanston, Ohio decided to become an entertainer.”

In recent years, she spent much of her time advocating for animal rights. Although mostly retired from show business since the 1980s, she still had enough of a following that a 2011 collection of previously unreleased songs, “My Heart,” hit the top 10 in the United Kingdom. The same year, she received a lifetime achievement honor from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Friends and supporters lobbied for years to get her an honorary Oscar.

Born to a music teacher and a housewife, she had dreamed of a dance career, but at age 12, she suffered a crippling accident: a car she was in was hit by a train and her leg was badly broken. Listening to the radio while recuperating, she began singing along with Ella Fitzgerald, “trying to catch the subtle ways she shaded her voice, the casual yet clean way she sang the words.”

Day began singing in a Cincinnati radio station, then a local nightclub, then in New York. A bandleader changed her name to Day, after the song “Day after Day,” to fit it on a marquee.

A marriage at 17 to trombonist Al Jorden ended when, she said, he beat her when she was eight months pregnant. She gave birth to her son, Terry, in early 1942. Her second marriage also was short-lived. She returned to Les Brown’s band after the first marriage broke up.

Her Hollywood career began after she sang at a Hollywood party in 1947. After early stardom as a band singer and a stint at Warner Bros., Day won the best notices of her career with “Love Me or Leave Me,” the story of songstress Ruth Etting and her gangster husband-manager. She initially balked at it, but the 1955 film became a box-office and critical success.

She followed with another impressive film, Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” starring her and James Stewart as an innocent couple ensnared in an international assassination plot. She sings “Que Sera, Sera” just as the story reaches its climax and viewers are beside themselves with suspense. The 1958 comedy “Teacher’s Pet” paired her with an aging Clark Gable as an idealistic college journalism teacher and her student, an old-school newspaper editor.

But she found her greatest success in slick, stylish sex comedies, beginning with her Oscar-nominated role in “Pillow Talk.” She and Hudson were two New Yorkers who shared a telephone party line and initially hated each other.

She followed with “The Thrill of It All,” playing a housewife who gains fame as a TV pitchwoman to the chagrin of obstetrician husband James Garner. The nation’s theater owners voted her the top moneymaking star in 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964.

Her first musical hit was the 1945 smash, “Sentimental Journey,” when she was barely in her 20s. Among the other songs she made famous were “Everybody Loves a Lover,” ″Secret Love,” and “It’s Magic,” a song from “Romance on the High Seas,” her first film.

Critic Gary Giddins called her “the coolest and sexiest female singer of slow-ballads in movie history.”

“Romance on the High Seas” had been designed for Judy Garland, then Betty Hutton. Both bowed out, and Day, recommended by songwriters Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, won the role. Warner Bros. cashed in on its new star with a series of musicals, including “My Dream Is Yours,” ″Tea for Two” and “Lullaby of Broadway.” Her dramas included “Young Man with a Horn,” with Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall, and “Storm Warning,” with Ronald Reagan and Ginger Rogers.

Her last film was “With Six You Get Eggroll,” a 1968 comedy about a widow and a widower and the problems they have when blending their families.

With movies trending for more explicit sex, she turned to television to recoup her finances. “The Doris Day Show” was a moderate success in its 1966-1973 run on CBS.

Disillusionment grew in the 1960s when she discovered that failed investments by her third husband, Martin Melcher, left her deeply in debt. She eventually won a multimillion-dollar judgment against their lawyer.

She had married Melcher, who worked in her agent’s office, in 1951. He became her manager, and her son took his name. In most of the films following “Pillow Talk,” Melcher was listed as co-producer. Melcher died in 1969.

In her autobiography, Day recalled her son, Terry Melcher, telling her the $20 million she had earned had vanished and she owed around $450,000, mostly for taxes.

In 1974, Day won a $22.8 million judgment against Jerome B. Rosenthal, her lawyer and business manager, for mishandling of her and Melcher’s assets.

Terry Melcher, who died in 2004, became a songwriter and record producer, working with such stars as the Beach Boys. But he was also famous for an aspiring musician he turned down, Charles Manson. When Manson and his followers embarked on their murderous rampage in 1969, they headed for the house once owned by Melcher and instead came upon actress Sharon Tate and some visitors, all of whom were killed.

Day married a fourth time at age 52, to businessman Barry Comden in 1976. She lived in Monterey, California, devoting much of her time to the Doris Day Animal Foundation...

Saturday, May 11, 2019


On this day in entertainment history...

1912: Phil Silvers, American comedian (Sgt Bilko-Phil Silvers Show), born in Brooklyn, New York.

1918: 44th Kentucky Derby: William Knapp on Exterminator wins in 2:10.8.

1929: 1st regularly scheduled TV broadcasts (3 nights per week)

1931: "M" Fritz Lang's first sound film starring Peter Lorre premieres in Berlin.

1956: Pinky Lee Show last airs on NBC-TV.

1968: Richard Harris releases "MacArthur Park" album.

1969: British comedy troupe Monty Python forms, made up of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin debuts in London.

2001: Actress Suzanne Pleshette (64) weds actor Tom Poston (79) at Manhattan's City Hall.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Since I just updated my favorite male singer list recently, I figured I better give the favorite female singers an update. There are so many great songbirds out there that have left their mark, but these are currently my five favorite...

5. ELLA FITZGERALD (1917-1996)
Ella Fitzgerald had a way with a song that no other vocalist, man or woman, had. She started out with Chick Webb and his band in the 1930s, but went out on her own after Webb died. She was with Decca Records in the 1940s, but I think my personal favorite era of her records in when she was with Verve and recorded those Great Songbook series in the 1950s and 1960s. 2013 ranking: 7

4. PEGGY LEE (1920-2002)
The smoky quality of Peggy Lee's voice always appealed to me. Peggy started out with Benny Goodman and his band in the early 1940s, and she became one of the truly great vocalists. She not only was a singer but an actress and songwriter as well. My person favorite recording of hers is "Where Can I Go Without You" on the Decca label. 2013 ranking: 11

3. CONNEE BOSWELL (1907-1976)
Even though she suffered from polio and was handicapped, Connee was one of the great voices of our times. She started out with her sisters, the Boswell Sisters, but went on her own in 1936 when her sisters got married and retired. She could sing jazz like no other woman. Her duets with Bing Crosby were legendary, and she continued to make great records through the 1950s. She did an album with Sy Oliver in 1956 that is one of the best things put on vinyl. 2013 ranking: 2

2. DINAH SHORE (1917-1994)
For the few people that remember Dinah Shore, they might think of her just from her television show of the 1970s. She was so much more, and a wonderful singer. She was discovered by Eddie Cantor, and she had countless hit records like: "Lavender Blue", "Jim", and one of my favorites
Shoo Fly Pie And Apple Pan Dowdy". She started out with RCA Victor, but would also record with Columbia and Capitol. Her voice is audio gold. 2013 ranking: 3

1. JO STAFFORD (1917-2008)
Jo Stafford has been my favorite female singer nearly as long as Bing Crosby has been my favorite male singer. I am also honored to have gotten an autographed picture of Jo Stafford in the late 1990s. Jo started out as a member of the Pied Pipers in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, but she became a solo artist in 1943, and she was one of the first acts signed to Capitol Records. There is not enough room to list all her hits but a few include: "You Belong To Me", "Shrimp Boats", and "Make Love To Me". Jo retired from performing in 1970 while she was on top, but she had nearly perfect pitch. I have a lot of favorites by Jo, but check out her recordings of "Always True To You In My Fashion", "A Ghost Of A Chance", and "Best Things In Life Are Free" to just name a few. 2013 ranking: 1

Again, this is just my opinion as of 2019 and not a complete list. I have dozens of singers that I love and listen to. Here are five more runners up that I love as well: Billie Holiday (1915-1959), Kate Smith (1907-1986), Lee Wiley (1908-1975), Mildred Bailey (1903-1951) and Judy Garland (1922-1969)...

Friday, May 3, 2019


I was surprised to find this recipe of Bing Crosby's for lamb kabobs. I never knew Bing was that handy in the kitchen. My wife does not like lamb but I may want to try these...


READY IN: 3hrs 20mins  SERVES: 4

1lb lean lamb fillets, cut into 1 inch cubes
1⁄2lb beef suet, cut into ½ inch cubes

1⁄4lb onion, finely chopped
2tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
4fluid ounces olive oil
black pepper
1clove garlic, crushed
1teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2teaspoon cumin seed

Place the marinade ingredients in a shallow dish, mix well and then add the meat and suet, mixing to coat.Cover and allow to marinate for 2-6 hours.Thread the beef and suet alternately onto soaked skewers. Cook over hot coals for 15-20 minutes, turning from time to time and basting occasionally with the marinade. Serve hot.