Radio stars (Sept 1933)

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RADIO STARS Understanding Jeannie Lang Jeannie Lang, who has probably been to as many parties as any girl her age in America, who has probably been offered more drinks and smokes than anyone her height and weight, has ncz cr tasted liquor nor smoked a cigarette. Now wait a minute. I can just hear a chorus of sweet young things hissing through their teeth, "Sissy." Listen to me! Jeannie has been called "Sissy" before—and outlived it. She's been pointed at as the girl who was too good to drink—and now those finger-pointers of yesterday are the very ones who are boasting to their friends that "They knew her when." IT all goes back to one bleak night in St. Louis, Missouri, in Jeannie's home. Her parents hadn't wanted her to go on the stage, but she had run off to a local theatre and got a job. Now, (Continued from page 9) other offers were coming along and that young nickel-hard mind of hers was as- serting itself. Though still in her 'teens, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. You can understand her parents' feel- ings, can't you. What parent ever looked at the stage as a safe haven for a daugh- ter ? None! But Jeannie was deter- mined, despite the pictures of iniquity and infamy that were painted for her. In the end, she won her way—but with a solitary string attached. She promised—signed a pledge—that night that she would never touch liquor or tobacco until she was twenty-one. What most people don't understand about Jeannie Lang is where she gets this depth of will that carries her ahead to whatever goal she chooses. I'm sure she doesn't understand it herself, but under the fluffiness of her exterior is a diamond-surfaced determination as un- shakable as Gibraltar's own stoney peak. Her singing! She laughs about it when you ask her if she has studied, byt deep down in her she hopes tre- mendously that you like it. It, too, be- gan back in St. Louis. Badly bitten by the theatrical bug, she became such an annoyance that her four brothers deter- mined to cure her. "You'll be awful on the stage," they told her. "You're no Garbo. And no Crawford. Forget it. Settle down. Raise a family." "But I want to go on the stage," she insisted. "But you can't act!" "I know it." "And you can't sing!" "But I can squeak," she said. The four brothers, Jeannie remembers, threw up their hands in disgust. iUlONTHS later, Paul Whiteman hap- pened to see her on the Universal lot in Hollywood where she was visit- ing. Her impish spirit and bantam size appealed to him. "Can you sing?" he demanded. "No, but I can squeak," she told him. The job he gave her in his film, "The King of Jazz," was relatively unim- portant. She had to sing only two songs. But when the picture was shown up and down America, it is a matter of studio record that 75,000 people wrote to her saying that they liked her work. Californians were the first to hear her on the air. It was a small broadcasting station and nine persons out of ten would have attached no significance to working for it; but Jeannie is different that way. There is an intensity about her that makes everything .she attempts seem im- portant. She sets about this job with all the fervor in her—and there's a lot of fervor in her, if you ask me. Which supplies a lesson to all of us who arc apt to skimp a bit here and there on our work. For you see, a band leader named Jack Denny happened to hear her one night. Somehow, she clicked with him and mentally he made a note of her name. Later, when he went to the Waldorf-A.storia in New York with his band, he needed a singer. And he sent for Jeannie. That was the start she wanted. With- in a few weeks, she was "squeaking" over both major networks. When Radio City's giant Music Hall opened, she was one of the players selected for the first week's bill. They tell me that every story should have a moral. Well, if we've got to find one, we needn't look far. Something like this, for instance: Don't ever let a ball of fluff deceive you; it may con- tain dynamite. Just keep that in your mind when you tune your loudspeaker to this little lady's voice. And then, unless I'm wrong, you'll be a lot further along toward un- derstanding little Jeannie Lang. Grade Allen does a William Tell, with George Burns acting as a target. Don't you admire Gracie's home-made bow and arrow? And wouldn't you like to know what George is thinking? 40