Vocalist Imogene Lynn began her career singing in society orchestras. In early 1941, she was a member of Emerson Gill’s territorial band, which operated in the Michigan and Ohio area, and in mid-1941 she was part of Eddie La Baron’s outfit in the Upper Midwest. She also sang with Ted Fio Rito.
Lynn was with Art Jarrett’s orchestra in early 1942 when Ray McKinley hire her for his new group, which debuted on April 21 at the Hotel Commodore in New York. With McKinley, she made her first recordings and began to attract national attention. By the end of the year, though, McKinley felt the draft sneaking up on him, and he and most of his musicians decided to enlist in the Marines together as a non-combative unit. They played their last civilian engagement on December 6 before disbanding. When the attempt to enlist as a unit was denied, many of the men joined other branches of the service. Lynn had became involved with McKinley clarinetist Mahlon Clark, who ended up in the Merchant Marines stationed on Catalina Island, where he became part of a band led by Phil Harris. He and Lynn married on December 11, and she moved to the island with her husband.
After her marriage, Lynn kept working, appearing on her own sustaining program on NBC from at least December 1942 to July 1943, and in September she became vocalist for the Dale Jones Sextette at the Palladium in Los Angeles, leaving in December 1943 to go back to Catalina. She appeared as a guest on Bob Crosby’s radio show that same month.
In January 1944, Lynn teamed up with Jill Winkler, the widow of Otto Winkler, Clark Gable’s press agent, who had died in the same plane crash that had killed actress Carole Lombard two years earlier. Winkler had decided to enter the management business, and Lynn was her first client. Winkler changed Lynn’s name to Gene Clark and arranged a screen test with 20th Century Fox. By April, however, Lynn was back to using her old name and had joined Freddie Slack’s orchestra, staying until October when Artie Shaw hired her for his new band.
In October 1945, a controversy erupted involving Shaw and Lynn’s husband. Clark, fresh out of the Merchant Marines, joined Paul Martin’s orchestra, which was alternating with Shaw’s band at the Meadowbrook in Los Angeles. Clark played only one night with Martin before being fired, and his dismissal caused a furor among local musicians. He was one of the top clarinetists, rivaling Shaw, and rumors had both Shaw and booking company MCA involved in the firing. Both MCA and club management had told Martin to get rid of Clark. Neither wanted two featured clarinetists on the same bill.
Despite the controversy, Lynn remained with Shaw until he disbanded in November. In August 1946, she become the new female member of the Merry Macs vocal quartet, replacing Virginia Rees. She left the Merry Macs in July 1947 to join the Smart Set vocal group. In 1949, she became a member of the Starlighters.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Lynn worked in Hollywood, dubbing vocals for films and animated shorts. She most famously provided the singing voice of the title character in the 1943 Tex Avery cartoon Red Hot Riding Hood. During her career, Lynn worked as a back-up vocalist for such artists as Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Jo Stafford. Imogene Lynn passed away from respiratory and renal cancer in 2003.