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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Connie Haines born 20 January 1922

Connie Haines (January 20, 1921 - September 22, 2008) was an American singer.

Popular dark-haired "Big Band" singer Connie Haines may have been petite in size (less than 5' tall) but she possessed a
sturdy set of pipes to compensate and was adored by her large fan base during the swinging war years. Performing alongside an equally young Frank Sinatra in both the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey bands way back when, she was known for her cool, doll-like vocals, quivery vibrato, and zesty, rhythmic stylings -- 25 of her more than 200 recordings, including "Let's Get Away From It All" and "Friendship", sold more than 50,000 copies.

Other classic singles from Connie ranged from the torchy stylings of "Stormy Weather" and "My Man" to the cooing innocence of "Snooty Little Cutie" and "Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy" to the hep and swinging "Let's Choo Choo Choo to Idaho".

She was born Yvonne Marie Antoinette JaMais on January
20, 1921 in Savannah, Georgia, but changed her name to the peppier-sounding Connie Haines to take up less space on the theater marquee at the time she joined Harry James' band. She grew up in Jacksonville, Florida (from age 5) and started to perform at the encouragement of her mother, who was a music and dance teacher. Winning a dance contest, she went on to perform for various Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and, by age 9, was known on radio as "Baby Yvonne Marie, the Little Princess of the Air" while being backed by her own 30-piece orchestra. Around that time, she also fought a near-fatal bout with rheumatic fever.

Winning more talent contests along the way she evolved into a teen sensation and performed on Fred Allen's radio show. At age 18, she hooked up with Harry James before joining
Tommy Dorsey's outfit in 1940. During that period, she and Sinatra duoed famously on such songs as "Oh, Look at Me Now" and "You Might Have Belonged to Another". By 1942, Connie had landed a regular singing gig with the Abbott and Costello radio show. She was such a hit that her 13-week contract was extended to 4 years. She found herself in demand on all the popular radio shows of the day -- Kay Kyser, Hoagy Carmichael and Skitch Henderson, to name but a few.

It was wartime and Connie, along with many of the other popular vocalists of her day, treated film audiences to specialty numbers in a number of fun, frivolous musicals that were primarily designed as escapist fare or patriotic morale-boosters.

Connie's last film appearance was in the romantic musical short Birth of a Band (1954) in which she warbled the classic standards "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "I've Got the World on a String". A highly religious woman, she teamed
with singer Beryl Davis and Hollywood icons Jane Russell and Rhonda Fleming during the 1950s in a gospel quartet. They scored a hit with the 1954 song "Do Lord".

Connie continued performing for decades in nightclubs, cabarets and revivals despite a number of life-threatening illnesses/injuries which included a bout with cancer (for which she had a double mastectomy in 1984) and a 2002 car accident that left her with two broken vertebrae in her neck. She finally retired in 2006 at age 85. During her career, she performed for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

The "Nightingale from Savannah" was married and divorced twice. Her first was to WWII flying ace Robert De Haven in
1945. That marriage produced a son (Robert Jr.) and a daughter (Kimberly). Her subsequent marriage to popular bandleader Del Courtney (1910-2006) lasted from 1966 to 1972.
Connie died in Clearwater, Florida, at age 87 of myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune neruomuscular disease. She was survived by her children and the one woman who influenced her the most -- her mother and manager, Mildred, who was 109 at the time of Connie's death on September 22, 2008. (Info edited from IMDB) 


These 4 legendary ladies of movies and recording joined forces during the mid-1950s to form the Hollywood Christian Group to sing gospel songs. Albums, singles and TV appearances followed including this one - in which they perform a medley of spirituals. Connie, who sang with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey Bands during the 1940s, sadly died on 22 September 2008 at age 87. May this TV clip from 1954 serve as a tribute to the petite singer with the big voice.

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