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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Kitty Kallen born 25 May 1922

Kitty Kallen (born Katherine Kalinsky on May 25, 1922) was an American popular singer, who sang with a number of big bands in the 1940s, coming back in the 1950s to score her biggest hit, 1954’s “Little Things Mean A Lot”.

Born in Philadelphia to a Jewish family, she won an amateur contest as a child doing imitations of some singers of the day. When she brought her prize (a camera) home, her father refused to believe her and thought she had stolen the camera, so he punished
her severely. Later, when neighbourhood people came to congratulate her father, he realised that her story was true. Subsequently she sang (while still a child) on The Children’s Hour, a radio program sponsored by Horn & Hardart, a firm which had a chain of cafeterias in New York and Philadelphia.

As a pre-teen she had her own program on Philadelphia’s WCAU, and soon she sang as a vocalist with the big bands of Jan Savitt in 1936, Artie Shaw in 1938, and Jack Teagarden in 1940. (While with the Savitt band, she briefly was a roommate of Dinah Shore.)

She married Clint Garvin, who played clarinet in Teagarden’s band, and when Teagarden fired Garvin, she left as well. The marriage was annulled. Kitty later married Budd Granoff, famous publicist,
agent, and TV producer. They were married over forty-five years, until Budd’s death in 1996. After a short stay with Bobby Sherwood, she joined the Jimmy Dorsey band, replacing Helen O’Connell. Though only a teenager at the time, she was the vocalist for one of Dorsey’s big hits, “Besame Mucho.” Most of her singing assignments were in duets with Bob Eberly, and when Eberly left to go into the service toward the end of 1943, she joined Harry James’ band where she struck gold again with a pair of dreamy Hit Parade toppers, "I'm Beginning to See the Light" and "It's Been a Long, Long Time." Two additional hits followed -- "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" and "I'll Buy That Dream" -- both of which were in the same mold as her previous features.   


She became a popular artist on radio, film, and night clubs, but lost her voice at the height of her career. She eventually made a comeback when a contract with Decca paid dividends with a song written by a Richmond, Virginia disc jockey and a music editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch called "Little Things Mean A Lot" was recorded in the spring of 1954. The record was a monster hit, one of the biggest of the post war era that stayed at the number one spot for nine consecutive weeks and remained on the charts for close to seven months. It sold more than two million copies and certainly cemented Kallen's place in pop music history.

Four months later it was Kitty Kallen again with a million selling national hit - "In The Chapel In The Moonlight" on Decca #29130. The record reached the number four position and remained on the charts for four months. She was voted most popular female singer in Billboard and Variety polls.

Kallen proved popular on television and was a regular on the Fred Allen television program Judge for Yourself. although by the mid-'50s, she began to be swept aside by rock-oriented pop music. She made brief comebacks in 1959 with Columbia and 1962 with
RCA, but 1963 was the last year for her on the pop charts, with "My Colouring Book." Her final album was Quiet Nights, a bossa nova-flavoured release for 20th Century Fox Records. Following these successes, she was forced to retire permanently due to a lung ailment.

During Kitty’s height of popularity, there were three impostors who billed themselves as Kitty Kallen. When one of them (Genevieve Angostinello) died, it was reported that Kitty Kallen had died. That is where the mis-information about Kitty’s birth name was born.

At the time of writing Kitty Kallen is believed to be living in Silver Spring, Maryland at a retirement community called, Leisure World.  For her recording work, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

So - it had been quite a career. Almost a quarter century of recordings that moved through the big band years, the post war pop scene, the first wave of rock 'n roll, and at the birth of modern rock. Kitty Kallen was a recurring symbol of American pop music for the ages. If she had only been responsible for her 1954 hits that would have been memorable, but the total legacy of her recorded output from the thirties to the sixties make her a vocal stylist for the ages. (info edited from mainly Wikipedia, All Music & J.C.Marion @ earthlink)

Here is a clip taken from the RKO "screen liner" (short) featuring Jan August on piano and Kitty Kallen singing. Found at Oakleigh market (Melbourne, Australia). Professionally transferred to digital video. Kitty sang with many big name bands of the time and it is believed that this is the only 'clip' of Kitty Kallen to be found on the Internet. Thanks to  Kerrie O'Keefe who originally uploaded this to YouTube.



boppinbob said...

For Kitty Kallen's CD Little Things Mean a Lot go here:

01. Little Things Mean A Lot
02. Love For Sale
03. You, You Darlin'
04. The Moon And The Willow Tree
05. Besame Mucho (feat. Bob Eberly)
06. Star Eyes (feat. Bob Eberly)
07. They're Either Too Young Or Too Old
08. When They Ask About You
09. I'm Beginning To See The Light
10. Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry
11. I Don't Care Who Knows It
12. 11:60 P.M.
13. Yah-ta-ta, Yah-ta-ta, Talk, Talk, Talk
14. I'll Buy That Dream
15. It's Been A Long, Long Time
16. The Wonder Of You
17. Waitin' For The Train To Come In
18. Should I Tell You I Love You?
19. My Heart Belongs To Daddy
20. Juke Box Annie
21. To Be Loved By You
22. When I Dream I Always Dream Of You
23. Heartless Heart
24. In The Chapel In The Moonlight
25. I Want You All To Myself

zephyr said...

Kittyhaslong been a favourite of mine Bob I think she is wonderful'I shall love this album.