Edythe Wright is remembered today primarily as a vocalist with Tommy Dorsey during the late 1930s. Wright had youthful aspirations of becoming a dancer, studying for eleven years in tap, toe and acrobatic dancing. She stumbled into singing in 1935, while in college. Frank Dailey, bandleader and owner of the Meadowbrook Ballroom, whom she knew from being a patron of his facility, asked her to fill in for his usual vocalist, Nancy Flake, who was ill that night. Her classmates had informed Dailey that she could sing, and she agreed to help. Little did Wright know that Dorsey’s manager, Arthur Michaud, was in the audience.
Michaud approached Wright and made her an offer to join Dorsey’s orchestra. At first, she wasn’t sure who Dorsey was, but after her brother filled her in on Dorsey’s status as one of the country’s most popular bandleaders, she took the job. Wright spent four years with Dorsey, singing on some of his most popular hits, such as as “You,” “Music, Maestro, Please,” “On Treasure Island,” “The Dipsy Doodle,” “The Music Goes ’Round and Around” and “The Big Apple.” She also worked with his Clambake Seven Dixieland combo.
Wright remained with Dorsey for four years, taking a few weeks off in 1938 to recover from an appendectomy. She left the band in October 1939, being replaced by Anita Boyer. Most sources say she planned to go solo, though at the time noted radio columnist Edgar A. Thompson reported she had a “Little Bundle” on the way. Whether that was true or not is unknown. Wright wasn’t married as of April 1939 and was appearing on the road as a singer in early May 1940. She married a Vermont doctor in November 1940.
Other rumors circulated in January 1940 and again in late 1941 that Dorsey, who was having domestic problems and in the midst of divorcing his then current wife, would marry Wright. The rumors proved untrue. The rumor again resurfaced in 1943, when Wright traveled to Los Angeles, where Dorsey was staying. Wright was referred to as Dorsey’s “longtime gal-friend.” Whether there’s any truth to it or not, public perception seemed to think that she and Dorsey had been carrying on an affair for many years. How much this is connected to her departure from the orchestra is uncertain.
Whatever the reason for leaving Dorsey, Wright’s solo career never took off, and by the mid-1940s she had been mostly forgotten, though she continued singing until at least the late 1940s. She passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1965 at the age of 51.