Imogene Lynn

Photo of Imogene Lynn
  • Born

    Trenton, Missouri
  • Died

    February 24, 2003
    Lancaster, California
  • Vocal Groups

    The Merry Macs
    The Smart Set
    The Starlighters
  • Orchestras

    Ted Fio Rito
    Emerson Gill
    Art Jarrett
    Eddie La Baron
    Ray McKinley
    Artie Shaw
    Freddie Slack

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. She remained with the Shaw until July 1945. By August of that year, she had 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.


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  • Big Boy
    Ray McKinley (Imogene Lynn), Capitol (1942)
  • Manhattan Serenade
    Ray McKinley (Imogene Lynn), Capitol (1942)
  • Rock-A-Bye Bay
    Ray McKinley (Imogene Lynn), Capitol (1942)
  • I'll Keep the Lovelight Burning
    Ray McKinley (Imogene Lynn), Hit (1942)
  • This Is Worth Fighting For
    Ray McKinley (Imogene Lynn), Hit (1942)
  • Who Wouldn't Love You
    Ray McKinley (Ray McKinley and Imogene Lynn), Hit (1942)
  • Got the Moon in My Pocket
    Ray McKinley (Ray McKinley and Imogene Lynn), Hit (1942)
  • Accentuate the Positive
    Artie Shaw (Imogene Lynn), RCA Victor (1944)
  • Let's Take the Long Way Home
    Artie Shaw (Imogene Lynn), RCA Victor (1944)
  • Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
    Artie Shaw (Imogene Lynn), RCA Victor (1945)

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  • Screenshot
    "Big Boy"
    Ray McKinley (Imogene Lynn)
    RKO (1942)
  • Screenshot
    Imogene Lynn
    from the cartoon Red Hot Riding Hood, MGM (1943)

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Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.


  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. “Imogene Lynn.” IMDb. Accessed 20 May 2022.
  3. “At The Theaters.” The Sandusky Star-Journal 1 Feb. 1941: 2.
  4. “Grabbing a Breath of Air.” Down Beat 15 Jul. 1941: 28.
  5. Steinhauser, Si. “Top Radio Band Boss Adds Fame.” The Pittsburgh Press 4 Feb. 1942: 11.
  6. “McKinley Shapes Up Band.” Down Beat 15 Mar. 1942: 5.
  7. “On the Stand: Ray McKinley.” Billboard 2 May 1942: 20.
  8. “—and Who's the Gate Behind the Phone?” Down Beat 1 May 1942: 1.
  9. “McKinley Band Bows in Gotham.” Down Beat 1 May 1942: 1.
  10. “McKinley Has Tuba, and Band That Comes On.” Down Beat 15 May 1942: 2.
  11. “McKinley Band Joins Marines.” Down Beat 1 Jan. 1943: 1.
  12. “Marine Chiefs Nix McKinley Deal for Band.” Down Beat 15 Jan. 1943: 7.
  13. “Imogene Weds.” Down Beat 15 Jan. 1943: 11.
  14. “On the Records: Ray McKinley.” Billboard 6 Feb. 1943: 22.
  15. “Radio Features.” The Lowell Sun [Lowell, Massachusetts] 10 Jul. 1943: 7.
  16. “Ben Pollack Opens Office As Manager.” Billboard 15 Sep. 1943: 5.
  17. “Reviews: Dale Jones Sextette.” Billboard 27 Nov. 1943: 25.
  18. “What's on the Air.” Wisconsin State Journal [Madison, Wisconsin] 12 Dec. 1943: 30.
  19. “Los Angeles Band Briefs.” Down Beat 15 Jan. 1944: 6.
  20. Parson, Louella. “Louella Parsons in Hollywood.” The Cedar Rapids Gazette 8 Feb. 1944: 11.
  21. Manners, Dian. “Men, Maids & Manners.” Down Beat 1 Mar. 1944: 7.
  22. “Vaudeville Reviews: Orpheum, Los Angeles.” Billboard 22 Apr. 1944: 27.
  23. “Artie Shaw's Band on 52-Week Basis.” Billboard 4 Nov. 1944: 21.
  24. “Shaw Sets Band Lineup.” Down Beat 15 Nov. 1944: 1.
  25. “Bands Dug by the Beat: Artie Shaw.” Down Beat 15 Feb. 1945: 12.
  26. “TD, Shaw Search For New Singers.” Down Beat 1 Aug. 1945: 6.
  27. “Imogene Lynn Goes With Merry Macs.” Down Beat 28 Aug. 1946: 7.
  28. “Imogene Lynn Joins The Merry Macs Vocal Group.” Down Beat 23 Sep. 1946: 3.
  29. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 12 Oct. 1946: 31.
  30. “Music as Written.” Billboard 26 Jul. 1947: 36.
  31. “Clarinetist Known for His Work on Soundtrack Dies.” Wilmington Star-News [Wilmington, NC] 4 Oct. 2007: 3B.