Bea Wain

aka Beatrice WainBeatrice Wayne

Photo of Bea Wain
  • Birth Name

    Beatrice Ruth Wain
  • Born

    April 30, 1917
    New York, New York
  • Died

    August 19, 2017 (age 100)
    Beverly Hills, California
  • Orchestras

    Larry Clinton

Considered by many to be the best band vocalist of the era, Bea Wain rose to fame in the late 1930s as a member of Larry Clinton’s orchestra. Her time on the bandstand was short. In 1939, Wain shifted her focus to radio, on which she worked as both a singer and a disc jockey. Her career slowed down after the war, though she continued singing into the 2000s.

The daughter of Yiddish-speaking Russian Jewish immigrants, Wain grew up in the Bronx and studied piano, dancing, and elocution as a youth but had no inclination to take up singing until high school. She soon began appearing on radio, including on NBC’s Children’s Hour and on WOR in 1934. That same year she joined Gene Kardos’ orchestra, then residing at Delmonico’s, recording one song with them in May 1937 on the Melotone label.

Wain spent time as a member of Ted Straeter’s choir before forming her own vocal group, Bea and the Bachelors. The Bachelors consisted of Al Rinker, Ken Lane, and John Smedberg. The quartet performed on Fred Waring’s radio program as part of the vocal group V-8, a combined effort with the Modernaires. Wain then joined Kay Thompson in 1937 where she formed part of Thompson’s choir of 13 girls. Later that same year she appeared on Kate Smith’s radio show as part of both the “Four Stars” quartet and Smith’s choir. In September 1937, Artie Shaw hired Wain for a recording session during which she sang “If It’s the Last Thing I Do.” On the label, Brunswick credited her incorrectly as Beatrice Wayne.[1]

While on Smith’s program, bandleader Larry Clinton offered Wain a job in his newly-formed orchestra based on the strength of an eight-bar solo he had heard her sing on Thompson’s radio program.[2] Wain was known for her perfect diction, sounding each syllable when she sang, and Clinton was looking for just such a vocalist. Though reluctant to leave a steady paycheck for a new, untested orchestra, she accepted, making her first recordings with Clinton in November 1937. Having spent her last few years working as a part of choirs, Wain had to quickly learn about being a band vocalist but soon emerged as Clinton’s star attraction, singing on the orchestra’s biggest hits and gaining national fame.

In early 1938, Wain and CBS radio announcer André Baruch, whom she had met while working together on Kate Smith’s program, announced their engagement. The wedding was set for May 19, 1938.[3] Wain had gone by Beatrice prior to joining Clinton, but it was shortened to simply Bea for record labels as her full name wouldn’t fit, and it remained that way. She earned a flat ten dollars for each record she made for Clinton.

Post-Band Career

Wain stayed with Clinton only a year-and-a-half before leaving in May 1939 for radio work. She landed a spot on Your Hit Parade that August, remaining there for two years. In late 1941, she began to appear on Merry-Go-Round and in early 1942 also became part of Manhattan Merry-Go-Round. She returned to Your Hit Parade on July 31, 1943, when Joan Edwards left to have a baby, and also began singing on Your All-Time Hit Parade on August 6. She left the former show on November 27 when Edwards returned. All were NBC programs. She made the cover of Billboard magazine’s October 16, 1943, issue.

Wain recorded several titles on Victor and Bluebird under her own name and received much critical acclaim, though she only managed to chart one song. Wain went into the recording studio once a month. On the same day, singers Barry Wood and Dick Todd also had their scheduled recording times. All three vocalists used the same studio orchestra. As soon as one of them finished their numbers, another would step into the studio. The similarity in sound of the music on each artist’s releases was notable. The American Federation of Musicians’ recording ban which began in August 1942 marked the end of Wain’s commercial recording career. In summer 1942, she made a musical short for Pathé with Johnny Long’s band.

Wain continued to sing, perform, and appear on radio throughout the 1940s, often with her husband. The couple had a son on June 1946. In December 1946, Wain joined Baruch as disk jockey on New York station WMCA with a daily program titled Mr. and Mrs. Music, where they interviewed major recording stars of the day. The popular show ended in April 1949 when WMCA switch its emphasis to sports. Wain gave birth to a daughter in April 1951. She and Baruch had their own show on WABC radio in New York in the mid-1950s. She returned to the recording studio in 1956, making an album for the Key label.

Wain and Baruch later moved to Florida and eventually settled in Beverly Hills during the late 1970s. Baruch passed away in 1991. Wain continued to perform off and on into her nineties. She passed away in 2017 at the age of 100 in Beverly Hills, California, where she resided in an assisted-living community.

In 1940 and 1941, Wain wrote a series of articles for Down Beat magazine in which she gave make-up and clothing advice to vocalists. A columnist in 1939 reported that Wain “steps into a cold tub without batting an eye and believes yodeling is the correct singing style while in the tub.” Another columnist reported that she always wore a sunbonnet while in the recording studio.


  1. Brunswick was notorious for misspelling vocalist names. ↩︎

  2. Wain, in a 1940 article, wrote that she was working for Straeter when Clinton offered her a job. This doesn’t fit with the plethora of sources that show she had worked for Kay Thompson and then Kate Smith, including Clinton himself who stated he heard Wain on Thompson’s show. ↩︎

  3. The story goes that Baruch, who was French, rattled off his full name to her one day—André Bernard Jean Jacques Rousseau Octavius le Troisiene Baruch de la Pardo—and Wain repeated it back to him without a mistake. Baruch was so fascinated that he asked her to marry him. ↩︎


  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. “Bea Wain.” IMDb. Accessed 11 Oct. 2015.
  3. Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.
  4. “Radio Programs.” The Gettysburg Times [Gettysburg, Pennsylvania] 27 Jun. 1934: 6.
  5. “Jaffe to Play at Lion's Hop.” The Cornell Daily Sun [Ithaca, New York] 1 Nov. 1934: 1.
  6. “Getting Ready For Big Midnight Show.” Red Bank Register [Red Bank, New Jersey] 25 Jul. 1935: 13.
  7. “On the Disks.” The Williamsburg Flat Hat [Williamsburg, Virginia] 16 Nov. 1937: 4.
  8. Siegel, Norman. “Critics Call Him 'Tops' For Six Years.” The Sandusky Star-Journal [Sandusky, Ohio] 22 Jan. 1938: 5.
  9. “Radio Jottings.” The Milwaukee Sentinel 11 Feb. 1938: 4-R.
  10. Owen, Kent. “Along Radio Lane.” The Racine Journal-Times [Racine, Wisconsin] 24 Feb. 1938: 12.
  11. Service, R.F. “Right out of the Air.” The Corona Daily Independent [Corona, California] 28 Feb. 1938: 3.
  12. Owen, Kent. “Along Radio Lane.” The Racine Journal-Times [Racine, Wisconsin] 8 Mar. 1938: 9.
  13. Hegard, Ken. “Along Radio Lane.” The Racine Journal-Times [Racine, Wisconsin] 17 Apr. 1938: 6.
  14. Moore, Henry. “Kaye Music Plenty Good.” The Paris News [Paris, Texas] 19 Oct. 1938: 5.
  15. Tucker, George. “Man About Manhattan.” Thomasville Times-Enterprise [Thomasville, Georgia] 7 Mar. 1939: 2.
  16. “Local 802.” Down Beat May 1939: 11.
  17. Damai, Paul K. “Radio Short Circuits.” The Hammond Times [Hammond, Indiana] 21 May 1939: 4.
  18. Nicoll, Bruce. “Behind the Mike.” Lincoln Sunday Journal [Lincoln, Nebraska] 4 Jun. 1939: D-8.
  19. “Bea Wain, Popular Singer, With Hit Parade on WCHS.” The Charleston Daily Mail [Charleston, West Virginia] 19 Aug. 1939: 2.
  20. Sher, Jack. “New York Reporter.” Port Arthur News [Port Arthur, Texas], *Screen & Radio Weekly* 29 Oct. 1939: 2.
  21. Wain, Bea. “Ork With Birth Pains Lures Bea from a Steady Paycheck.” Down Beat 1 Aug. 1940: 6.
  22. Wain, Bea. “Bea Wain Reveals All; How to Dress, Make Up.” Down Beat 15 Oct. 1940: 6.
  23. Wain, Bea. “How to Make Up on the Road Jumps.” Down Beat 1 Dec. 1940: 6.
  24. Wain, Bea. “Neat Appearance Should Be Girl's 1941 Resolution.” Down Beat 1 Jan. 1941: 9.
  25. “Double-Duty.” Down Beat 15 Feb. 1941: 4.
  26. “Clubs Set Shows Atlantic City Despite Dim-Out.” Billboard 4 Jul. 1942: 11.
  27. No title. Down Beat 15 Aug. 1942: 6.
  28. Jovien, Harold“Musicians On the Air.” Down Beat 1 Mar. 1942: 4.
  29. “Bea Wain Vice Joan Edwards.” Down Beat 15 Jul. 1943: 13.
  30. “Bea Wain Gets Second Show.” Down Beat 15 Aug. 1943: 2.
  31. No title. Down Beat 1 Dec. 1943: 19.
  32. “Bea Wain.” Billboard 16 Oct. 1943: 4.
  33. “New Numbers.” Down Beat 15 Jul. 1946: 10.
  34. “Too Short for a Head.” Billboard 23 Nov. 1946: 11.
  35. “Bea Wain And Andre Baruch on WMCA.” Down Beat 2 Dec. 1946: 2.
  36. “Young Jockey.” Down Beat 7 May 1947: 8.
  37. “10 Bucks Per.” Down Beat 5 Nov. 1947: 12.
  38. Gaver, Jack. “Broadway.” Beaver Valley Times [Beaver, Pennsylvania] 11 May, 1948: n. pag.
  39. “WMCA to Switch Accent to Sports, Revamp Music.” Billboard 19 Mar. 1949: 6.
  40. “New Numbers.” Down Beat 18 May 1951: 10.
  41. “Key Pacts Bea Wain.” Billboard 5 May 1956: 25.
  42. “Bea Wain To Record.” Down Beat 30 May 1956: 8.
  43. “Obituaries.” Colorado Springs Gazette [Colorado Springs, Colorado] 22 Aug. 2017: B3.
  44. “United States Census, 1920,” FamilySearch ( : Sun Mar 10 22:26:39 UTC 2024), Entry for Morris Wain and Sara Wain, 1920.
  45. “United States Census, 1930,” FamilySearch ( : Fri Mar 08 20:31:06 UTC 2024), Entry for Morris Wain and Sarah Wain, 1930.