Happy Birthday Marion Harris!

Marion Harris

Marion Harris (April 4, 1896 – April 23, 1944) was an American popular singer who was most successful in the 1920s. She was the first widely known white singer to sing jazz and blues songs.

Early life
She was born Mary Ellen Harrison on April 4, 1896, probably in Indiana.

She first played vaudeville and movie theaters in Chicago around 1914. The dancer Vernon Castle introduced her to the theater community in New York, where she debuted in the Irving Berlin revue Stop! Look! Listen! in 1915.

In 1916, she began recording for Victor Records, singing a variety of songs, such as "Everybody's Crazy 'bout the Doggone Blues, but I'm Happy", "After You've Gone", "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", "When I Hear That Jazz Band Play" and her biggest success, "I Ain't Got Nobody" (originally titled "I Ain't Got Nobody Much").

In 1920, after the Victor label would not allow her to record W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues", she joined Columbia Records, where she recorded the song successfully. Sometimes billed as "The Queen of the Blues," she tended to record blues- or jazz-flavored songs throughout her career. Handy wrote of Harris that "she sang blues so well that people hearing her records sometimes thought that the singer was colored." Harris commented, "You usually do best what comes naturally, so I just naturally started singing Southern dialect songs and the modern blues songs."

She was briefly married to the actor Robert Williams. They married in 1921 and divorced the following year. Harris and Williams had one daughter, Mary Ellen, who later became a singer in her own right under the name Marion Harris Jr.

In 1922 she moved to the Brunswick label. She continued to appear in Broadway theatres throughout the 1920s. She regularly played the Palace Theatre, appeared in Florenz Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic and toured the country with vaudeville shows. After her divorce from a marriage that produced two children, she returned in 1927 to New York theater, made more recordings with Victor and appeared in an eight-minute Vitaphone short film, Marion Harris, Songbird of Jazz. After performing in a Hollywood movie, the early musical Devil-May-Care (1929), with Ramón Novarro, she temporarily withdrew from performance because of an undisclosed illness.

Later career and death
Between 1931 and 1933, Harris performed on such NBC radio shows as The Ipana Troubadors and Rudy Vallee's The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour. She was billed by NBC as "The Little Girl with the Big Voice."
Harris with banjo uke

In early 1931 she performed in London, returning for long engagements at the Café de Paris. In London she appeared in the musical Ever Green and broadcast on BBC radio. She also recorded in England in the early 1930s but retired soon afterwards. In 1936, she married Leonard Urry, an English theatrical agent. Their house was destroyed in a German rocket attack in 1941, and in 1944 she travelled to New York to seek treatment for a neurological disorder. She was discharged two months later.

She died on April 23, 1944 in a hotel fire that started when she fell asleep while smoking in bed.

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Frances Langford, vocalist
b. Lakeland, FL, USA
d. July 11, 2005 (congestive heart failure).
Age: 92. née: Frances Newbern.
Best recalled for her days with the Bob Hope show.
Her biggest hit was "I'm In The Mood For Love".
~by Jason Ankeny

"The Sweetheart of the Fighting Fronts," singer Frances Langford was a World War II heartthrob beloved by troops for her performances as part of Bob Hope's USO tours. Born Frances Newbern in Lakeland, FL, on April 4, 1914, she initially aspired to a career singing opera, but a throat operation permanently changed her vocal register and she gravitated toward big-band music, earning the nickname "The Florida Thrush." While performing on a Tampa radio station, the 16-year-old caught the attention of bandleader Rudy Vallée, who extended an invitation to appear on his national radio program. After appearing on Broadway in 1931's Here Comes the Bride, Langford relocated to Hollywood, where she appeared on Dick Powell's radio show Hollywood Hotel. Langford rocketed to overnight success singing the now-perennial "I'm in the Mood for Love," a song written expressly for her to perform, while co-starring in the 1935 Alice Faye vehicle Every Night at Eight.

She would go on to feature in close to 30 Hollywood films, most notable among them Broadway Melody of 1936, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and The Hit Parade. In 1941 Langford replaced Judy Garland on comedian Hope's Pepsodent-sponsored radio show, and soon after participated in his first military program at Riverside, CA's March Field. When Hope began assembling celebrity revues to entertain U.S. troops stationed overseas, Langford was a regular presence, performing in Africa, Italy, and the Pacific Theater. Servicemen adored her, and her experiences overseas informed her daily newspaper column "Purple Heart Diary," which was later adapted into a 1951 film of the same name.
After the war, Langford starred opposite Don Ameche on radio's The Bickersons -- in 1951, the actors reunited as stars of the short-lived ABC television daytime variety series The Frances Langford-Don Ameche Show. She made her final film in 1954, playing herself in The Glenn Miller Story, but now channeled most of her energy into her nightclub career. In 1955, she married outboard motor heir Ralph Evinrude, moving to his 400-acre estate in Jensen Beach, FL. Together Langford and Evinrude opened a tiki bar dubbed the Outrigger Resort that was a popular destination for fellow celebrities. Langford was a headliner there for close to two decades.

In addition, she returned to television with the 1959 NBC series Frances Langford Presents, retitled The Frances Langford Show the following season. 
In 1966 she gave her farewell USO performances, joining Hope on a tour of Vietnam before returning to the comforts of the Outrigger stage; she performed less and less in the years to follow, devoting much of her time to sailing and fishing than singing. Langford sold the Outrigger following Evinrude's 1986 death, additionally donating their former beach house to serve as the Frances Langford Visitor Center of the Florida Oceanographic Society. In 1989 Langford made her final on-camera appearance when she was featured in Entertaining the Troops, a television special recalling Hope's USO tours. 
Five years later, she married Harold Stuart, the assistant secretary of the Air Force under former president Harry S. Truman. Langford died of congestive heart failure on July 11, 2005, at the age of 91.
Arne Hülphers
b. Trollhatten, Sweden
d. July 24, 1978, Stockholm, Sweden.

George "Big Chief Jolley" Landry, vocals
b. New Orleans, LA, USA.

Ted McMichael, vocals
b. Marshalltown, IA, USA.
d. Feb. 27, 2001, Camarillo, CA, USA.

Ted McMichael was one of the founders of the popular vocal quartet The Merry Macs. The group had big hits with songs like the nonsense song Mairzy Doats and Sentimental Journey; in the 1940s, and they worked with a number of well-known band leaders, including Joe Haymes, Glenn Miller, Ray Noble, and Paul Whiteman.
Ted McMichael: 1908-2001

King Oliver's Dixieland Syncopators, 1926 Bert Cobb, Paul Barbarin, King Oliver, Bob Shoffner, George Field, Bud Scott, Darnell Howard, Albert Nicholas, Barney Bigard, Luis Russell
Bob Shoffner, trumpet
b. Bessie, TN, USA.
d. 1983, USA.
An excellent trumpeter who was in brilliant form on four recorded titles with Luis Russell in 1926, Bob Shoffner had a long career but was always somewhat obscure. He grew up in St. Louis, started playing drums when he was nine, took up the bugle and then switched to trumpet in 1911. After two years in the Army (1917-19), part of which he spent playing trumpet in a military band, Shoffner worked with Charlie Creath and toured the Midwest with Tommy Parker.
In 1921 he moved to Chicago where he played with John H. Wickcliffe, Everett Robbins' Jazz Screamers and Mae Brady. After a stint back in St. Louis with Creath, Shoffner was in Chicago working with Honore Dutrey's group and in June 1924 becoming Louis Armstrong's first replacement with King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. Other than brief stints with Dave Peyton and Lottie Hightower's Nighthawks, Shoffner was with Oliver until Feb. 1927. After recovering from lip problems that knocked him out of action for a few months, Shoffner played with Charles Elgar (1928), Erskine Tate, Jerome Carrington, McKinney's Cotton Pickers (1931), Tate again and Frankie Jaxon (1932).
In 1934 he moved to New York and had short stints with Fess Williams and Fletcher Henderson. After playing with Hot Lips Page's band in 1938, Shoffner eventually moved back to Chicago, working with local groups before getting a day job with the State of Illinois. After the mid-1940's (including a recording session with Richard M. Jones), Shoffner retired from music until 1957 when he joined Franz Jackson's Original Jazz All-Stars, gigging with Jackson until 1963 when erratic health forced him to become a part-time player. Bob Shoffner recorded in the 1920's with Lovie Austin's Blues Serenaders, Jimmy O'Bryant, Ida Cox and Russell among others, cut two songs for Mercury in 1945 (obscure selections in which he is joined by vocalist Earl Jones) and recorded a few albums with Franz Jackson in the early 1960's.
~ Scott Yanow
"Muddy" Waters, vocals/guitar
ne: McKinley Morganfield
b. Rolling Fork, MS, USA.
d. April 30, 1983, Westmont, IL, USA.

né: McKinley Morganfield.
Best known record: "Hoochie Coochie Man"
Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician and 

is generally considered "the Father of Chicago blues".

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

Tiny Parham, piano
died in Milwaukee, WS, USA.
Age 43.

Sylvester Weaver, guitar
died in Louisville, KY, USA.
Age: 62.

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - My Man (Mon Homme)
  • Moonlight


Bessie Smith - Pinchbacks - Take "Em Away


Waring's Pennsylvanians - Collegiate


Chicago Rhythm Kings - I've Found A New Baby

The Broadway Bell-Hops
  • Goodnight (I'll See You In The Morning)
  • In The Evening
  • Sweet Sue - Just You

Harry Reser and his Orchestra
  • She's A Great, Great Girl


Jabbo Smith's Rhythm Aces - Decatur Street Tutti

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - In the Park in Paree


Fanny Brice - Ziegfeld Follies of 1921
~Music : Maurice Yvain
~English Lyrics: Channing Pollack - 1920)

It's cost me a lot
But there's one thing that I've got
It's my man.

Cold and wet
Tired, you bet
But all that I soon forget
With my man.

He's not much for looks
And no hero out of books
Is my man...

Two or three girls has he
That he likes as well as me
But I love him!

I don't know why I should
He isn't any good
He isn't true
But I'll stick to him like glue
What else can I do?

Oh my man, I love him so!
He'll never know.
All my life is just despair
But I don't care!

When he takes me in his arms
The world is bright,
All right!

What's the difference if I say
I'll go away?
When I know I'll come back
On my knees some day;
For whatever my man is
I am his
Forever more!

Sometimes I say
If I just could get away
With my man

He'd go straight, sure as fate,
For it never is too late
For a man.

I just like to dream of a cottage by a stream
With my man

Where a few flowers grew and perhaps a kid or two
Like my man.

And then my eyes get wet
I 'most forget

'Til he gets hot
And tells me not to talk
such rot...

Oh my man, I love him so!
He'll never know.
All my life is just despair
But I don't care!

When he takes me in his arms
The world is bright
All right!

What's the difference if I say
I'll go away
When I know I'll come back
On my knees some day
For whatever my man is
I am his
Forever more!

brought to you by...  
Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow, 

and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

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