Today is the birthday of the great radio singer Vaughn DeLeath (Leonore Vonderleith, 1896-1943). Plus-sized DeLeath dropped out of Mills College in the 1910s to sing professionally in vaudeville. In 1920, she was luck enough to get in on the ground floor of a new medium, radio, which was to be her bread and butter for the next decade. Billed as “The Original Radio Girl” and “The First Lady of Radio”, she was one of the first to tailor her style to the more intimate microphone based entertainment platform, in short, becoming one of the first crooners. From 1921 to 1931 she made successful recordings for most of the major record labels, and continued to perform live, while maintaining her national presence as a radio singer. By the early 30s, an alcohol problem had taken a toll on her career, and she was eclipsed as the “First Lady of Radio” by Kate Smith,
Here’s one of her most popular records, a tune that was also a hit for Elvis Presley over three decades later:
To find out more about vaudeville past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc