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Hildegarde (February 1, 1906 - July 29, 2005) was an American cabaret singer, best known for the song "Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup."



She was born Hildegarde Loretta Sell in Adell, Wisconsin,[1] and raised in New Holstein, Wisconsin, as a Roman Catholic in a family of German extraction. Sell worked in vaudeville and traveling shows throughout her career, appearing across the United States and Europe. She was known for 70 years as "The Incomparable Hildegarde," a title bestowed on her by columnist Walter Winchell.[2]

She trained at Marquette University's College of Music in the 1920s. [3]

During the peak of her popularity in the 1930s and '40s, she was booked in cabarets and supper clubs at least 45 weeks a year. She appeared on the cover of Life magazine in 1939, and her recordings sold in the hundreds of thousands. Revlon even introduced a Hildegarde shade of lipstick and nail polish.

She was once referred to as a "luscious, hazel-eyed Milwaukee blonde who sings the way Garbo looks".[4]

"Hildegarde was perhaps the most famous supper-club entertainer who ever lived," the entertainer Liberace once said. "I used to absorb all the things she was doing, all the showmanship she created. It was marvelous to watch her, wearing elegant gowns, surrounded with roses and playing with white gloves on. They used to literally roll out the red carpet for her."

Hildegarde's admirers ranged from soldiers during World War II to King Gustaf of Sweden and the Duke of Windsor.

She never married. She was the business partner and good friend of Anna Sosenko. That relationship ended up in litigation over the control of receipts from their joint efforts.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, in addition to her cabaret performances and record albums, she appeared in a number of television specials and toured with the national company of the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies.

Her autobiography, Over 50 .... So What!, was published by Doubleday in 1961.

She died at the age of 99 in a hospital in New York on July 29, 2005, of natural causes.


Hildegarde appeared as the Celebrity Mystery Guest on What's My Line? on May 8, 1955.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun




  1. A female given name, variant of Hildegard.


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