Considered by many to be the best vocalist of her era, Bea Wain studied piano, dancing and elocution as a youth but had no inclination to take up singing until high school. She soon began appearing on local independent radio stations in her native New York and in the mid-1930s secured a job with bandleader Gene Kardos. She also appeared on NBC’s Children’s Hour.
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, before joining Kay Thompson in 1937, where they formed part of Thompson’s Rhythm Singers.
Later that same year, while she and the Bachelors were working on Kate Smith’s radio show, bandleader Larry Clinton offered Wain a job in his newly-formed orchestra based solely on the strength of an eight-bar solo he had heard her sing on Thompson’s radio program. She accepted and quickly emerged as the band’s star attraction, singing on their biggest hits.
Wain stayed with Clinton only a year-and-a-half before deciding to go solo in May 1939. She landed a spot on the Your Hit Parade radio program that August, remaining there for two years before appearing on Manhattan Merry-Go-Round. She then returned to Your Hit Parade in July 1943 and also began singing on Your All-Time Hit Parade that August, remaining on both until the following year. 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. The recording ban of 1942 marked the end of her commercial recording career. She continued to sing, perform, and appear on radio, however, throughout the 1940s, often with her husband, radio announcer André Baruch.
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. The couple later moved to Florida and eventually settled in Beverly Hills during the late 1970s.
- Wain also recorded “If It’s the Last Thing I Do” with Artie Shaw in 1937, on which she was credited as Beatrice Wayne. This has led many sources to incorrectly cite Wayne as her last name. She has indicated in an interview that Wain is the correct spelling.