Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday again, and a lovely one it turned out to be. Started out rainy and windy; hard trip to do my radio program in Standish. But this afternoon it is clearing, the patio thermometer says somewhere between 50 and 55. And I am looking forward to a nice trip to Kennebunk tomorrow to join friends for an organ get-together.

Last week I think I said I would do Jane Morgan, and then I forgot. I began researching Margaret Whiting, my friend Greg's favorite 50's vocalist. SO, if you are up to reading about two important vocalists, I will tell you about both of them.

Jane Currier (Morgan) is of particular interest to me because her brother Robert Currier established a very well known summer theater in Kennbunkport.

She was born in Newton, Mass.(Florence Currier, 1924) the daughter of two very accomplished musicians. Her father, from Munich, played in the Boston Symphony, and her mother was a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music. Both were composers, teachers and operated a family music school in Newton. (Bertram Currier was a collateral relative of the famous lithographer of Currier and Ives.) Jane was taught to sing, play piano and violin and dance. Her career as a performer began with roles in Robert Currier's Kenenbunkport Playhouse in summer theater. Her father died when she was only 13 and her mother moved the children to Daytona Beach Florida. After high school Jane attended Juliard School of Music to study opera. Studying by day, she performed in night clubs and at parties, Bar Mitzvahs and small restaurants to earn money to continue her education.
She was hired to sing in the Roseland Ballroom, six nights a week for $25 per week.
While still at Juliard, Art Mooney heard her perform and hired her. It was he who changed her name to Morgan by taking the first name of one of his vocalists, Janie Ford, and the last of another, Marian Morgan.

Because her mother had taught her flawless French, the impressario Bernard Hilda hired her to accompany him to Paris to sing in a nightclub he planned to open near the Eiffel Tower. She appeared regularly in the Club Des Champs Elysees, twice nightly, mostly to French audiences. Her songs were those of Cole Porter,George Gershwin, French songs, and standards of the century, all in correct French. She was a sensation there, and Hilda (and his gypsy violin) became a celebrity. Subsequently, she worked seven days a week touring all over Europe, Italy,Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and England. She was not by any means getting wealthy, but many fine designers of the day were eager to provide her with their creations. Remarkable hats, elegant gowns, style-setting wardrobes; she became a "continental chanteuse", but was hardly known in the US.

In 1952 Morgan went to Canada,opened at the Ritz as a soloist with a bilingual act, but returned to New York with performances in upscale nightclubs. She got her own radio program with NBC, backed by the 500-piece Symphony Orchestra. Then back to England in 1954.

In 1962 she married Larry Stith. I could not turn up any additional information on Stith.
They divorced in 1965, and shortly after Morgan married Jerry Weintraub, her agent. Her agent/husband was responsible for booking her into US venues which led to her appearing in many radio programs and eventually on television.

Many years ago the Kennebunkport Playhouse burned beyond salvaging. But to this day the Weintraubs maintain a lovely old farm home near that site which is known as Blueberry Hill. Florence Currier, the little girl who started in Kennebunkport Playhouse as a child performer, evolved into the lovely Jane Morgan who has credits to her name like Bells Are Ringing, Marry Me, Marry Me, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Anniversary Waltz, Affairs of State, Kiss Me Kate, and Mame She has appeared with Andy Williams, Burt Bachrach, with Gary Cooper in Love In the Afternoon, Chet Atkins (country/western? Yes!), Ed Sullivan, and Hollywood Palace. Her last appearances were with Johnny Cash (she did an answer to A Boy Named Sue titled A Girl Named Johnny Cash), and the Merv Griffin Show in 1971.

Jane and Jerry Weintrab adopted three children, Julie, Jamie and Jodie.

In all of these profiles of musicians I learn new things, and I only pass on those facts which I think are most interesting. I use Wikipedia and books which I have on hand.
Some performers have their own website which gives yet another side - their side - of their stories. IF you have a favorite performer, or a show or song you would like to to research, please let me know. If you don't want to use the "blogspot" to remark, just drop me a line at, but please be sure to mark "blog" in the subject line, because if I don't recognize your URL or name I probably won't open the message.
I get a lot of offers for jobs from the UK to handle accounts in the US for sales made over there; almost daily I get a chance to win $50,000,000 from Africa; or inherit part of an estate in Australia from an unknown distant relative who just knew I would put it to good use and deserved to have it --if I would just send them $10,000 to assure the safe and prompt transfer. Yeah, sure.
Check the second post for today on Margaret Whiting.

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing. It's good for the soul. jem

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