Connie Haines, big band singer dies at 87

Discussion in 'Music' started by Henry Gale, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

    Jul 10, 1999
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    There's a lot of big band history in Connie's obit, you can read the whole thing on the site.

    Shockingly she is survived by her mother! Really!

    "Connie Haines dies at 87; big band singer co-starred with Sinatra
    By Don Heckman
    Special to The Lo Angeles Times

    September 26, 2008

    Connie Haines, a petite and dynamic big band singer who performed alongside Frank Sinatra in the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey orchestras, died Monday in Clearwater, Fla. The cause of death was myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune neuromuscular disease. She was 87.

    Haines was best known as a singer with a knack for rhythm, and many of her most successful recordings -- 25 of which each sold more than 50,000 copies -- featured her crisp, swinging vocal style.

    When Dorsey first heard her in action with James at Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook, New Jersey's temple of big band music, he reportedly asked, "Hey, little girl, where'd you learn to swing like that? And when can you join my band?"

    It didn't take long. Haines recorded "Comes Love" and "I Can't Afford to Dream" with James, revealing a capacity to handle lyrical ballads as well as jitterbug specials, before moving to the Dorsey organization with Sinatra.

    James, however, was not fond of Haines' birth name -- Yvonne Marie Antoinette JaMais -- suggesting that it would take up too much space on a theater marquee. "You don't look like an Yvonne," he said, "you look like a Connie." And "Haines" was chosen, apparently because it was a close rhyme to "James."

    Haines quickly made the name her own, however, establishing herself as one of the prime female singers of the big band era. Many of her hit songs were the product of a warm musical partnership with Sinatra via tunes such as "Oh, Look At Me Now," "Let's Get Away From It All," "Friendship," "I'll Never Smile Again" and the jaunty rhythm tune "Snooty Little Cutie."

    Like many big band vocalists of the '40s, Haines moved on to a solo career as the public's preferences turned away from large ensemble swing to singers. Over the course of the next few decades, she released more than 200 recordings, ranging from her big band stylings to more contemporary rhythms.

    The first white singer to record for Motown Records, she released 14 songs written by Smokey Robinson, including "What's Easy For Two Is Hard For One."

    Haines also was drawn to gospel music as a reflection of her Christian beliefs, recording and touring in an ensemble that included close friends Beryl Davis, Rhonda Fleming and Jane Russell.

    Although her career as an actress tended to be framed in films that allowed her to perform as a singer, Haines' appearances in motion pictures such as "The Duchess of Idaho" suggested a talent that never had the opportunity to fully blossom within her lifelong dedication to music.

    She was a regular on the Abbott & Costello Radio Show and a frequent guest artist during the golden years of television variety shows, appearing with Milton Berle, Eddie Cantor, Perry Como, Frankie Laine and Ed Sullivan, among others.

    Haines' marriage to Robert DeHaven, an ace pilot during World War II, ended in divorce.

    She is survived by her mother, Mildred JaMais, who is 109; a son, Robert DeHaven Jr. of San Francisco; a daughter, Kimberly Harlan of Prineville, Ore.; and three grandchildren."

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