Born in Michigan, blonde singer Marianne Dunne grew up in Akron, Ohio, where she spent her high school years singing on local radio. When bandleader Horace Heidt came to the city during her senior year in early 1940, she auditioned for his orchestra but didn’t win the job. Trumpet player Bobby Hackett was part of Heidt’s band at the time and liked her voice. He gave her an introduction letter to Jack Teagarden, who was also in town and in need of a singer, and Teagarden made her an offer. Soon after joining Teagarden’s orchestra in April 1940, Dunne began to be billed simply as Marianne, without a last name.
Marianne didn’t stay long with Teagarden’s band, leaving in September 1940, said to be down with appendicitis. She rejoined Teagarden in April 1941, remaining until July when she left for Will Osborne’s orchestra. While with Osborne, she became engaged to the band’s drummer, Dick Shannahan. It’s unknown if they married. Dunne stayed with Osborne for more than two years, leaving in August 1943, remaining at the Park Avenue Club in Miami Beach as a single after the band moved on from that location. She was back with Osborne again in March 1944 for at least that one month.
In January 1945, Marianne joined Sonny Dunham’s orchestra. After the band went through a grueling series of one-nighters during the latter half of that year, both she and male singer Tommy Randall left at the first of December, tired of the grind. After exiting Dunham, Marianne began to use her last name in billing again. At some point, she joined Herbie Fields’ orchestra, leaving in October 1946 for Charlie Ventura’s outfit. She remained with Ventura for at least that month. From March to May 1947, she sang and served as mistress of ceremonies at the Casino Royal club in Washington, D.C.
At some time after May 1947, Marianne sang with Frankie Carle before joining Ted Weems in September 1948. She quit Weems in December of that year after marrying musician Bill Conrad in Santa Monica. She then disappears from history, presumably retiring after her marriage.
It’s unknown if the first-name-only billing was Teagarden’s idea or Dunne’s. ↩︎
Whether she actually had appendicitis or not is unknown. Appendicitis was a common generic reason given for female singers when they were sick and they didn’t want the real cause to be public knowledge. ↩︎
Dunne recorded with Ventura on National Records. The label misspelled her last name as “Dunn.” ↩︎
It’s difficult to research someone who went only by a common first name. There were numerous singers named Marianne in the 1940s, and at least one of them went only by her first name as well. There were also other performers at that time who went by the singular name Marianne, including a dancer, a stripper, and a headless girl in a sideshow. To further add complications, there was a popular song of the period called “Marianne” that was recorded by dozens of artists. ↩︎