Radio stars (Dec 1938)

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Tommy Dorsey's vocalist, Edythe Wright, worked in a coffee shop on the New Jersey College campus. RADIO CAREERS BECJIN "names" of today's radio roster frequently have originated in theatres, orchestras and concert halls, of course. But certainly as many have come to radio stardom from behind counters and typewriters, from sand-lot baseball fields and the depths of mines. Take singers, for instance. One crooner was a profes- sional pugilist; Buddy Clark was a law student, as was Bing Crosby. Nelson Eddy worked as a reporter before radio found him; and Morton Downey, who returned to the air for Mutual, was a salesman of such varied stuff as phonograph records, silverware and insurance, besides a brief career running a donkey engine in a freight yard. So you never know—the man who delivers your milk to- day may be crooning through your loudspeaker tomorrow ; the girl who takes your dictation at the office may be the prima donna of a big commercial next year. Lucille Manners prepared for her radio career by pound- ing the keys of a typewriter in a small New Jersey office, and she was not a secretary—just a stenographer. Star- dom on the Cities Service program "was a far-off dream, then, but she spent every penny she could save from her salary for singing lessons. In spite of the skepticism of friends and associates, she studied with the best teachers she could afford; got up an hour early each morning to practice before going to work. And the fragile, blonde Lucille belied her appearance by showing the tenacity of a bulldog. This sounds, of course, like a typical success story. Well, it is—except that few attain the success that has come to Lucille. Then there's Edythe Wright, the attractive young vocal- ist with Tommy Dorsey's orchestra over the NBC net- works. Edythe didn't come to radio from behind a typewriter, but neither was she a glamour gal of stage or screen. Before radio found her she was engaged in the prosaic job of running a coffee shop on the campus of New Jersey College, at New Brunswick, in order to work her way through school. While still coffee-shopping through college she sang over a small local station and substituted for the girl vocalist in Frank Dailey's dance band. Dailey was a friend of the Wrights, and his singer was ill. Through this, Tommy Dorsey heard her . . . and now, so do you. Oh yes—and there's another typist-singer starring in the radio firmament. But the twist to Sara Rehm's story is that she's still working her typewriter five days a week for the Wheeling Steel Corporation, with a metamorphosis into a radio soprano sensation on Sundays in the Musical Steelmakers program, which is composed entirely of talent recruited from the company's mills and offices. Most musicians—like vocalists—have been interested in music all their lives. But not all of them have wholly musical backgrounds. There's Russ Morgan, for ex- ample, who, in immaculate white tie and tails, conducts Music in the Morgan Manner at the swank New York Biltmore and over the air. That's a far cry from a grimy coal mine in Scranton, but that's where Russ used to work. True, his father was a musician as well as mine foreman and started young Russ' musical education when the boy was eight. But when he was old enough, Russ got a job in the mines and only shook Scranton's coal dust from his clothes when he went to Philadelphia to join Paul Specht's orchestra. His history from then on is entirely musical. Eddy Duchin, too, was only a part-time musician at first, with piano as a hobby. He became interested in orchestras while working as a waiter at a boys' camp and organized the other waiters into a three-piece orchestra. While studying pharmacy he {Continued on page 66) 23