Abbe Lane: A Child Star Who Grew Up a LOT

December 14, 1932 was the natal day of Abbe Lane (Abigail Francine Lassman).

Born in Brooklyn, young Francine Lassman was all of four years old when she first appeared on the radio and five when she was featured in the Vitaphone short Toyland Casino in 1938, where she sang a song called “Five and Ten Cent Soldiers on Parade” before lines of tap-dancing kids of kids in military costumes. Vaudeville was dead by the time she broke in, but there was plenty of radio work for a kid performer, and presentation houses for live appearances.

In the early 50s, she broke through on every conceivable front, she married bandleader Xavier Cugat, being appearing on tv variety shows, got parts in movies (many of them Italian-made), and sang on record albums. In 1958, she starred with Tony Randall in the Broadway show Oh Captain! In 1964, she split with Cugat, but it didn’t seem to hurt her career much. She pushed the envelope on revealing costumes and suggestive remarks and it fueled her notoriety, becoming known as  “the swingingest sexpot in show business”.

In 1992 she penned a semi-autobiographical novel But Where Is Love? which dealt with her painful memories of her teenage marriage to a man almost 40 years her senior. Though her background is Jewish, Lane spent most of her career singing Latin-flavored music. In addition to Cugat, she also worked with the bands of Vincent Lopez and Tito Puente. Her last films were in the mid 1980s.

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