Vocalist Marilyn Duke had her own fifteen-minute radio program on the Mutual network in 1935 and 1936. She sang with both Shep Fields and Jolly Coburn in 1937 and with Mannie Gates in 1938 before joining Vaughn Monroe in January 1941, where she helped shape the band’s early sound. When she left Monroe in May 1943, her press agent sent out notices that she had joined the Women’s Army Air Corps, which many newspapers printed. Duke was actually in New York, trying her hand as a single.
In August 1943, Duke joined Will Osborne, where she remained until June 1944 when she started a ten-week solo appearance in Boston. She was back with Monroe the following month however. In November of that year, she provided vocals on Monroe’s first number one hit, “The Trolley Song,” which was also the first song recorded by Victor after the end of the American Federation of Musician’s recording ban. Duke was gone from Monroe’s orchestra soon after.
In September 1944, Duke married Boston amusement park owner Peter Brien. She also co-wrote the song “I’ll Love You Forever” with Teri Josefovits that same year. In the mid-1950s, Duke sang in Las Vegas.
Duke was active on the Boston music scene, though it’s unknown if she was a native of that city. The Boston College newspaper described her as “southern.” ↩︎