Probably not, but then Helen had lots of competition growing up - being the tenth of eleven children born to her Italian Catholic parents (who'd obviously never heard of this) - plus, she got her first singing gig when she was just eight-years-old. "She sings Hollywood!" exclaimed her earliest fan Bing Crosby, and from there, she was on her way. She dabbled in movies for a bit, but she really hit her stride with singing, collaborating with Stan Kenton, Chuck Cabot, and fellow singer Spike Jones, whom she'd later marry. And let's be blunt, Helen was a dish. Which meant that every magazine was more than happy to boost sales by putting her on the cover:
Despite the fact that she was a mainstay on radio and TV variety shows, Helen only cut two LPs, including this Go Greyco Cheerful Exclusive! from 1957, "After Midnight," which features her posing oh-so-coyly on her bed for a night of
Speaking of great pipes - and raciness, too! - let's give it up for the one and only Barbara McNair.
In the 1950s and 60s, Barbara was everywhere. Why? Because she wasn't just an accomplished chanteuse, she was an actress, too, so on any given week you could watch her sing on "The Steve Allen Show" or "The Bell Telephone Hour," or watch her perform in "I, Spy" or "MacMillan and Wife," to name just a few TV shows she did. Then you could sashay over to the movie theatre and watch her in "A Change of Habit" with Elvis Presley or "They Call Me Mister Tibbs" with Sidney Poitier. Oh, and she was also the first black woman - the first! - to host her own musical-variety show, "The Barbara MacNair Show." Not enough? Behold, for she also posed nude for Playboy in 1968:
I know, right? And if that weren't enough, she also cut several LPs, like this Beautiful Barbara Cheerful Exclusive! from 1960, "Love Talk," one of her earliest efforts in which she sings "All About Love" and "Kansas City," giving them a buoyant, jazzy kick, and "He's Just A Man," where her gift for subtle stagecraft brings out the song's aching want. It's a superb album - and it keeps growing on me each time I play it.
Weren't we just talking about film-noir? As I've aged - though for some reason, I've never passed the age of thirty-five (just go with it) - I've come to appreciate film-noir anew, even more than I did as a teenager when I thought they were "It, goddammit. The be-all." I think everyone goes through that first phase with film-noir. Then years later, when you least expect it, they sneak back into your life and seem brand new, and a whole lot funnier (intentionally) than you remembered. One of them, "Desert Fury," starred this hot piece...
Who wanted to get up into this hot piece...
And I'll admit, it's not one of my favorites, even though it's lauded for being "a film-noir in color!" by overbearing cineastes (you know the type; the ones who insist that "Family Plot" is an essential part of Hitchcock's "oeuvre") (and it's not) (and by the way, don't you hate it when they pull "oeuvre" on you?) (I so-o-o want to tell them to stuff their "oeuvre" up their hamhocks) (but I'm too polite) (no, I'm not). AnywayI'mgettingofftrack, it may not be one of the best film-noirs, but it does have one of the best film-noir scores, thanks to Miklos Rozsa, the master of slow-boil mood and teeth-grinding tension. If you're a Rozsa fan - and I see you out there - this restored and expanded album is real treat.
The Secret Song Film didn't eat more than a small morsel or two at Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, just before, during and after, she served Thanksgiving up her nose. "Now that's something to be thankful for," she said, and really fast (and her eyes blinked a lot) (but she looked a-may-zing).
She's also thankful for a certain Icelandic songstress who reliably brings the weird on - no matter what day it is - as she does in her spanking new CD that's orchestral, yo, or an all-strings version of her newest CD. And if that doesn't keep you away from Black Friday stores, what will?
Did you know people eat swan burgers? That's just gross.
Gobble-gobble in the comments, if you like!