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Frances Langford

in the film This Is the Army (1943)
Born Frances Newbern Langford
April 4, 1913(1913-04-04)
Lakeland, Florida, U.S.
Died July 11, 2005 (aged 92)
Jensen Beach, Florida, U.S.
Occupation Singer, actress
Years active 1932–1956
Spouse(s) Jon Hall (1934–1955)
Ralph Evinrude (1955–1986)
Harold Stuart (1994–her death)

Frances Newbern Langford (April 4, 1913 – July 11, 2005) was an American singer and entertainer who was popular during the Golden Age of Radio and also made film appearances over two decades.

Contents

Birth

Born Julia Frances Newbern Langford in Lakeland, Florida, she was the daughter of Vasco Cleveland Langford and his wife, Anna Rhea Newbern.

Radio

Langford originally trained as an opera singer. While a young girl she required surgery on her throat, and as a result, she was forced to change her vocal style to a more contemporary big band, popular music style. While singing for radio during the early 1930s, she was heard by Rudy Vallee, who invited her to become a regular on his radio show. From 1935 until 1938 she was a regular performer on Dick Powell's radio show.

Films

With her film debut in Every Night at Eight (1935) she introduced what became her signature song: "I'm in the Mood for Love". She then began appearing frequently in films such as Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935), Born to Dance (1936) and Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) with James Cagney, in which she performed the popular song "Over There." In several of these films, such as Broadway Melody, she appeared as herself as she did 1953 in "The Glenn Miller Story" where she sang "Chattanooga Choo Choo" with the Modernaires and the movie orchestra.

World War II

From 1941, Langford was a regular singer on Bob Hope's radio show. During World War II, she joined Hope, Jerry Colonna, and other performers on U.S.O. tours through Europe, North Africa, and the South Pacific, entertaining thousands of G.I.'s throughout the world.

In his memoir, Don't Shoot! It's Only Me!, Bob Hope recalled how Frances Langford got the biggest laugh he had ever heard. At a U.S.O. show in the South Pacific, Langford stood up on a stage to sing before a huge crowd of G.I.'s. When Langford sang the first line of her signature song, "I'm in the Mood for Love," a soldier in the audience stood up and shouted, "You've come to the right place, honey!"

Also, during the war, Langford wrote a weekly column for Hearst Newspapers, entitled "Purple Heart Diary," in which she described her visits to military hospitals to entertain wounded G.I.'s. She used the weekly column as a means of allowing the recovering troops to voice their complaints, and to ask for public support for making sure that the wounded troops received all the supplies and comforts they needed.

Her association with Hope continued into the 1980s. In 1989 she joined him for a USO tour to entertain troops in the Persian Gulf.

Television

She worked for several years in the late 1940s on Spike Jones' show before being teamed with Don Ameche for a short-lived television program, The Frances Langford/Don Ameche Show (1951), a spin-off of their successful radio series The Bickersons in which the duo played a feuding married couple. Langford was also the host of a variety television program Frances Langford Presents, which lasted one season. Francis Langford made an appearance in the Honeymooner's Lost Episode 'Christmas Party' which first aired December 19, 1953.

Marriages and later life

Frances Langford married three times. Her first husband, from 1934 until 1955, was actor Jon Hall. In 1948 they donated 20 acres of land near her estate in Jensen Beach, Florida to the Board of County Commissioners of Martin County, which named it Langford Hall Park. Located at 2369 N.E. Dixie Highway just south of the Stuart Welcome Arch, it is known today simply as Langford Park and is one of the county's major parks.[1][2]

In 1955, she married Outboard Marine Corporation President Ralph Evinrude. They lived on her estate in Jensen Beach and opened a resort they named The Outrigger, where Langford frequently performed. Evinrude died in 1986. In 1994, she married Harold Stuart, who had been an assistant secretary of the United States Air Force under President Harry S. Truman and who survived her. She had no children.

Langford was a supportive member of the Jensen Beach community and constantly donated money to the community. She died at her Jensen Beach home at age 92 from congestive heart failure. In 2006, the Frances Langford Heart Center, made possible by a bequest from her estate, opened at Martin Memorial Hospital in Stuart, Florida.[3]

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Although her greatest successes were in radio, her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1500 Vine Street, acknowledges her contribution to motion pictures.

Filmography

  • The Subway Symphony (1932) (short subject)
  • Rambling 'Round Radio Row #5 (1933) (short subject)
  • Every Night at Eight (1935)
  • Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
  • Collegiate (1936)
  • Palm Springs (1936)
  • Sunkist Stars at Palm Springs (1936) (short subject)
  • Born to Dance (1936)
  • Hit Parade of 1937 (1937)
  • Hollywood Hotel (1937)
  • Dreaming Out Loud (1940)
  • Too Many Girls (1940)
  • Hit Parade of 1941 (1940)
  • Swing It Soldier (1941)
  • All American Co-Ed (1941)
  • Picture People No. 4: Stars Day Off (1941) (short subject)
  • Mississippi Gambler (1942)
  • ture People No. 10: Hollywood at Home (1942) (short subject)
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  • Hedda Hopper's Hollywood No. 4 (1942) (short subject)
  • Combat America (1943) (documentary)
  • Follow the Band (1943)
  • Cowboy in Manhattan (1943)
  • This Is the Army (1943)
  • Never a Dull Moment (1943)
  • Career Girl (1944)
  • Memo for Joe (1944) (short subject)
  • Dixie Jamboree (1944)
  • Girl Rush (1944)
  • Radio Stars on Parade (1945)
  • People Are Funny (1946)
  • Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Victory Show (1946) (short subject)
  • The Bamboo Blonde (1946)
  • Beat the Band (1947)
  • Melody Time (1948) (voice)
  • Deputy Marshal (1949)
  • Purple Heart Diary (1951)
  • The Glenn Miller Story (1953)
  • Fun at St. Fanny's (1956)

DVD release

Frances Langford is featured on the DVD Entertaining the Troops with Bob Hope.

References

External links

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