You’ll hear some very loving and touching words on today’s Phantom Dancer.
The Phantom Dancer, presented every week by actor, Greg Poppleton, Australia’s only authentic 1920s-30s singer goes live from 107.3 2SER Sydney every Tuesday after the noon news.
It’s your non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV sent to 22 radio stations of the Community Radio Network and online.
Hear this week’s Phantom Dancer (after 24 April), and past Phantom Dancers, online at radio 2ser.com
In the mix this week, live 1930s-60s radio by Bob Crosby, Sammy Kaye, Al Trace, Larry Clinton and Bea Wain. See the full play list below.
THOSE TOUCHING WORDS?
“Beautiful, Bea Wain, beautiful.”
Who’s Bea Wain? She’s one of the greatest singers of the Swing Era and my absolute favourite.
Who said those words? You’ll hear them on today’s Phantom Dancer in the Bea Wain set, incidentally.
It was Andre Baruch, award-winning network radio announcer, who said them spontaneously as the announcer for the 1939 ‘Your Hit Parade’ after Bea Wain sang, ‘O, You Crazy Moon’.
They were married in 1938 and remained together until his death 53 years later. Bea Wain died last August aged 100.
THE UNSUNG SINGING GREAT
Bea Wain began singing on local radio at age six. She lived in the Bronx. Her accent disappeared when she sang. She had four No. 1 hits. And she never had a singing lesson.
She also had her name shortened from Beatrice to Bea by some unknown radio exec, to save space on record labels.
Quoting from her New York Times obituary,
“I never wanted anybody to teach me how to sing,” she said in an interview with Sara Fishko for the New York public radio station WNYC in 2013. “I had piano, elocution and dancing lessons, but never singing lessons.”
And she went on to sing professionally past the age of 90.
THE BIG BREAK
Was a big band arranger and in 1938 was forming a swing band with big RCA – NBC promotion. You’ll hear the band broadcasting ‘The RCA Campus Club’ from the Glen island Casino on today’s Phantom Dancer. The singer he hired to front this important band was Bea Wain.
How’d he find her.
She was in the chorus for the Kate Smith Radio Show. She stepped forward for an eight bar solo. That was enough for Clinton. She was hired. Again quoting from her NYT obit:
“The impeccable Wain never fails to captivate us as Clinton’s brassmen play natty little curlicues around her,” Will Friedwald wrote in his book “Jazz Singing: America’s Great Voices From Bessie Smith to Bebop and Beyond” (1990).
OVER THE RAINBOW
In 1939 Billboard magazine’s college poll voted her the most popular female vocalist. Ella Fitzgerald was second.
In 1938 she was the first to record ‘Over The Rainbow’ from the film, ‘The Wizard of Oz’. MGM, which owned the rights, stopped the record from being issued until after the film, and Judy Garland’s version (who sang it in the movie) was released.
Wain’s ‘Over The Rainbow’ is the Phantom Dancer Video of the Week. It’s interesting to hear the first-ever version, totally untouched by Garland’s version.
Wain said in a 1988 interview, that when Helen O’Connell, a fellow big band singer, was asked how it felt to be a part of music history, she replied, “If I knew it was history, we would have paid more attention.”
In a short recording career of just a few years (she got tired of touring and the poor recording fees and rarely made records after 18 months with the Clinton band), Bea Wain had four hit records, all with Larry Clinton’s Orchestra .
1. Heart and Soul, which she introduced in the short ‘A Song is Born’ announced by Andre Baruch
2. Deep Purple
3. Cry, Baby, Cry
4. My Reverie, an up-tempo version of the Debussy piano piece ‘Reverie’ with lyrics by Larry Clinton.
‘My Reverie’ became Bea Wain’s theme song but, quoting from her New York Times obituary, “it was almost scrapped when Debussy’s heirs learned, to their horror, that the music had been adapted for a pop audience with a brisk tempo and lyrics.
But when Larry Clinton sent them his recording, Wain recalled, they replied, “If this girl sings it, O.K”
MR AND MRS MUSIC
After the World War Two, during which Bea Wain sung in Army Camps and her husband, Andre Baruch served overseas, the couple became ‘Mr and Mrs Music,’ a daily program on WMCA, New York, on which they doubled as disc jockeys and interviewers.
They continued on radio when they moved to Palm Springs in 1973 and retired from being DJs in 1980.
After that, Bea Wain sang on TV and in clubs, (there’s a 1983 TV medley of her 1938-39 hits on YouTube).
Quoting from the Wiki article on Wain, she told Christopher Popa in a 2004 interview, “Actually, I’ve had a wonderful life, a wonderful career. And I’m still singing, and I’m still singing pretty good. This past December, I did a series of shows in Palm Springs, California, and the review said, “Bea Wain is still a giant.” It’s something called Musical Chairs. I did six shows in six different venues, and I was a smash. And I really got a kick out of it.”
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Your Phantom Dancer Video of the Week the first recording of ‘Over The Rainbow’ sung by Bea Wain in 1938 but not released until after the ‘Wizard of Oz’ (in which the song features) came out in 1939. Enjoy this original take wholly uninfluenced by Judy Garland…