Armenuhi Manoogian better known by her stage name Kay Armen (Chicago, Illinois November 2, 1915 – New York City, New York, October 3, 2011), was a popular American Armenian singer during the 1940s and 1950s. Her career in show business spanned almost six decades, as she worked in radio, television, onstage and in film. She also wrote many songs, performed in nightclubs and recorded many records.
Armen, who was known as “Charmin’ Kay Armen” during her career, was born in Chicago to Armenian parents; her father was a professional wrestler known as the Terrible Turk, and her brother became a professional wrestler known as Bobby Managoff.
Ms. Armen began winning talent contests and singing on the radio and in Chicago theatres, said her sister, Claire Manoogian. "She really knocked herself out." She was also a songwriter and joined ASCAP in 1953. Her popular-song compositions include "Be Good to Yourself"; "My Love and I"; and "It's a Sin to Cry Over You".
Her many radio hits include the successful “Stop the Music” program with Bert Parks, on both radio and later on TV. At one time Armen was heard on all three national radio networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, with various programs. Playwright William Saroyan and his cousin, Ross Bagdasarian (creator of the “Chipmunks”), wrote Come on-a My House for Armen and it was later recorded by many artists, including Rosemary Clooney
Frank Sinatra called her "Babe." Her fans included Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Peggy Lee, Doris Day and Dean Martin. She sang with opera superstar Mario Lanza.
Armen made her big screen debut in the 1955 MGM musical “Hit the Deck,” starring Vic Damone, Debbie Reynolds, Tony Martin, Jane Powell and Ann Miller. A clip from the film’s finale, in which Armen sings “Hallelujah,” was featured in “That’s Entertainment!”
On TV, she starred in the brief NBC 1959 sitcom “Love and Marriage,” with William Demarest, and appeared repeatedly on Ray Bolger’s “Washington Square.” She also guested on talk and variety shows including “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Mike Douglas Show.”
Armen also appeared in the 1961 film “Hey, Let’s Twist!” and later in life had supporting roles in the 1980 CBS telepic “Jimmy B. & Andre” and in the 1981 comedy “Paternity,” starring Burt Reynolds.
In 1995, President Bill Clinton presented her with the National Medal of Honour for the Arts, and in 2000, she received the Handel Medallion from New York City.
In October 2005, Armen was honoured by the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The prestigious Opera News Magazine called Armen “one of the great pop contraltos of all time.”
In 2008, Armen was honoured with a pontifical encyclical and the St. Sahag-St. Mesrob Medal from the Catholicos of All Armenians, the highest honour bestowed by the worldwide Armenian Church to artists for their lifetime advancements in the arts and culture.
Kay died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York on Oct. 3 after a short illness. She was 95. (Info edited from mainly variety.com & Wikipedia & mirrorspectator.com)