Edythe Wright

Photo of Edythe Wright
  • Born

    August 16, 1914
    Bayonne, New Jersey
  • Died

    October 27, 1965 (age 51)
    Point Pleasant, New Jersey
  • Orchestras

    Tommy Dorsey

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 top band­lead­ers, she took the job. Wright be­came very pop­u­lar with au­di­ences and crit­ics, singing on some of Dorsey’s most no­table early 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, with two brief in­ter­ludes, the first in June 1938 when she had an ap­pen­dec­tomy. Then in December of that year she abruptly left the band while they were at the Hotel New Yorker, sup­pos­edly to wed ten­nis star Don Budge, in what some sus­pect may have been a pub­lic­ity stunt on her part. Mary Ann McCall was hired to re­place her. McCall’s de­but came on open­ing night in a Hartford, Connecticut, the­ater in January 1939. Some re­ports at the time say McCall was booed off the stage with au­di­ence mem­bers de­mand­ing Wright’s re­turn. The real story, how­ever, in­volved a con­tract dis­pute. Dorsey’s con­tract with the the­ater spec­i­fied that Wright would ap­pear, and when she did­n’t the the­ater man­ager pressed the term. McCall was out, and Wright re­turned the next night, say­ing she was only on va­ca­tion and had­n’t re­ally left the band. She in­di­cated that she would stay with the or­ches­tra un­til their pre­sent tour was com­pleted.

Wright left the band per­ma­nently 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. It was six months, though, be­fore she made her solo de­but on April 14, 1940, in Rochester, New York.

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. Wright mar­ried a Vermont doc­tor in November 1940.

After open­ing in Rochester, Wright went on the road with a new Billy Rose show in early May. In August, she toured with Charlie Barnet on a dou­ble bill, and in September she formed an act with Ruth Lowe, song­writer of I’ll Never Smile Again,” who was un­der con­tract to Dorsey. The act con­tin­ued through at least December. Her solo ca­reer never took off, though, and by the mid-1940s she had been mostly for­got­ten. She con­tin­ued singing un­til at least the late 1940s.

Edythe Wright passed away from pan­cre­atic can­cer in 1965 at the age of 51.

Music

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  • The Music Goes 'Round and Around
    Tommy Dorsey and His Clambake Seven (Edythe Wright), Victor (1935)
  • On the Beach at Bali-Bali
    Tommy Dorsey (Edythe Wright), Victor (1936)
  • San Francisco
    Tommy Dorsey (Edythe Wright), Victor (1936)
  • Tea on the Terrace
    Tommy Dorsey (Edythe Wright), Victor (1936)
  • The Dipsy Doodle
    Tommy Dorsey (Edythe Wright), Victor (1937)
  • The Big Apple
    Tommy Dorsey and His Clambake Sevem (Edythe Wright), Victor (1937)
  • The Lady Is a Tramp
    Tommy Dorsey and His Clambake Sevem (Edythe Wright), Victor (1937)
  • Music, Maestro, Please
    Tommy Dorsey (Edythe Wright), Victor (1938)
  • The Big Dipper
    Tommy Dorsey (Edythe Wright), Victor (1938)
  • Back to Back
    Tommy Dorsey (Edythe Wright), Victor (1939)
  • You Don't Know How Much You Can Suffer
    Tommy Dorsey (Edythe Wright), Victor (1939)

All recordings are from the Internet Archive's 78rpm collection. Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.

Sources

  1. Walker, Leo. The Wonderful Era of the Great Dance Bands. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1972.
  2. McCarthy, Albert. The Dance Band Era. Radnor, Pennsylvania: Chilton, 1971.
  3. “Highlights and Starlights.” Herald-Journal [Spartanburg, SC] 17 Jul. 1938: 22.
  4. “Edythe Wright Leaves.” Down Beat Jan. 1939: 2.
  5. “Edythe Wright Rejoins Dorsey After 'Vacation'.” Down Beat Feb. 1939: 2.
  6. “Here's The True Story Of The McCall-Wright Mixup in Hartford.” Down Beat Mar. 1939: 2.
  7. Martin, Darrell. “Editors Battle Housewives in Crumit's Show.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1 Apr. 1939: 24.
  8. “Edythe Wright Out.” Down Beat 15 Oct. 1939: 3.
  9. Thompson, Edgar A. “Riding the Airwaves.” The Milwaukee Journal 8 Dec. 1939: 2.
  10. Kilgallen, Dorothy. “Kilgallen.” The Miami News 18 Jan. 1940: 15-A.
  11. “Edythe Wright Solo.” Down Beat 15 Apr. 1940: 2.
  12. “Edythe Wright, Noted Stage Singer, to Be Here Friday.” Herald-Journal [Spartanburg, SC] 3 May 1940: 14.
  13. “Johnny Long Band is Strong on Romance.” Down Beat 15 Aug. 1940: 19.
  14. “Ruth Lowe, Edythe Wright Form Act.” Billboard 28 Sep. 1940: 9.
  15. “Vaudeville Notes.” Billboard 2 Nov. 1940: 24.
  16. Kilgallen, Dorothy. “The Voice of Broadway.” The Miami Daily News 11 Dec. 1940: 7-B.
  17. Walker, Danton. “Broadway.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 17 Oct. 1941: Peach Section 2.
  18. “Hollywood Shots.” Reading Eagle 3 Jan. 1943: 15.
  19. “Program Reviews: Victory Caravan.” Billboard 20 Mar 1943: 8.
  20. “New Ballroom in Philly Off To Big Start.” Down Beat 1 Apr. 1943: 22.
  21. “Five Years Ago This Month: June 1938.” Down Beat 1 Jun. 1943: 2.