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    Popular Singer of the 1950s Was 95 – The Music news


    Pop singer Lola Dee, who recorded for the Columbia and Mercury labels in the 1950s and toured around the world with the likes of Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante and Johnnie Ray, has died. She was 95.

    Dee died Thursday of natural causes at a nursing facility in Hinsdale, Illinois, her publicist and CD producer, Alan Eichler, announced.

    After signing a five-year contract with Chicago-based Mercury Records, a recently formed company that had Frankie Laine, Vic Damone and Patti Page on its roster, the singer, then billed as Lola Ameche, teamed with the Al Trace Orchestra for 1951’s “Pretty Eyed Baby,” which reached No. 21 on the Billboard charts.

    She and Trace followed that year with another hit, “Hitsity Hotsity,” and she recorded more than two dozen songs over the next three years, including swinging versions of “Dance Me Loose,” “Old Man Mose,” “Down Yonder,” “Take Two to Tango” and “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.”

    She was often backed by Ralph Marterie’s band, with whom she also toured, and Marterie went on to become her manager.

    Lola Dee Copycat ad

    Courtesy of Alan Eichler

    With rock ’n roll emerging, Mercury updated the musician’s image and changed her name to Lola Dee. She became a blonde, and in 1954, recorded the change-of-pace ballad “Padre” and “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus,” which was covered by Brian Setzer in 2005.

    Mercury also used her to launch its subsidiary label Wing Records and had her do The Platters’ “Only You (and You Alone),” which sold nearly 1 million copies. Her other tunes around this time included “Paper Roses”; “Born to Be With You”; two popular duets with Rusty Draper, “Scratch My Back” and “Behind Those Swinging Doors”; and the title song from the 1957 Rita Hayworth film Fire Down Below.

    After focusing on live performances, Dee returned to Chicago and was a featured singer on WGN radio and television, often working with National Radio Hall of Fame broadcaster Orion Samuelson from 1971-78. She also made annual stops at the Illinois State Fair.

    Her last two public appearances were singing the national anthem for the Chicago Cubs and White Sox in 1978. She later worked as an executive hotel concierge.

    Lorraine DeAngelis was born in Chicago in 1928. She performed in local amateur shows by the time she was 9, then sang on the ABC Radio show Teen Town, later known as Junior Junction. (Other castmembers on the variety program included Dick York of Bewitched fame and future Super Circus bandleader Mary Hartline.)

    A stint on the popular Chicago radio show National Barn Dance led ABC to sign her as a staff vocalist, and she sang five days a week on a 15-minute program alongside famed guitarist George Barnes.

    She then came to the attention of Trace, with whom she would make her first recording, “When Lola Plays the Pianola,” released by Columbia in 1950. After sessions with Danny Alvin’s Kings of Dixieland and the Cliff Parman Orchestra, she inked with Mercury.

    In 2015, British-based Jasmine Records issued a 58-track, two-CD compilation of her work titled Lola Dee Meets Lola Ameche.

    Survivors include her son, Barry.



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