Stuart Foster

Photo of Stuart Foster

Once called the greatest un­sung singer,” bari­tone Stuart Foster had a long and dis­tin­guished ca­reer. Though he never achieved any­thing more than a mod­er­ate level of fame, Foster worked with some of the biggest names in the busi­ness and earned the re­spect of crit­ics and col­leagues alike over his thirty years as a vo­cal­ist.

Foster joined Ina Ray Huttons new all-male or­ches­tra in 1940, where he re­ceived fea­ture billing and ap­peared with the group in the 1944 Columbia film Ever Since Venus. He re­mained with Hutton for four years un­til Hutton, cit­ing a need for rest, tem­porar­ily dis­banded in August 1944. Foster then joined Guy Lombardos or­ches­tra, where he had his only chart suc­cess, singing on two of the band’s hit songs. Always” peaked at the num­ber ten spot for one week in February 1945, and Poor Little Rhode Island” reached num­ber eleven on the juke­box charts in May 1945. The for­mer was recorded in early November 1944, and the lat­ter on December 1st. Hutton an­nounced her re­or­ga­ni­za­tion the fol­low­ing day, and Foster re­turned to her band, where he stayed only briefly. By early March 1945, he’d joined Tommy Dorsey.

At the time Foster joined, Dorsey had been hav­ing trou­ble find­ing and keep­ing male vo­cal­ists. He’d gone through a slew of singers since Skip Nelson had left in October 1944, some of them only stay­ing a few days. With Foster, Dorsey found sta­bil­ity. The bari­tone stayed with the or­ches­tra un­til Dorsey dis­banded in November 1946. When the band­leader put to­gether a tem­po­rary or­ches­tra the fol­low­ing month for a four-week en­gage­ment, Foster re­turned, as he did when Dorsey per­ma­nently re­formed in May 1947. In August 1947, Foster was voted best-liked male vo­cal­ist in Billboard mag­a­zine’s first an­nual DJ poll. He placed sec­ond in the fol­low­ing year’s poll, swap­ping places with Vaughn Monroe, who had been sec­ond the first year. He ap­peared with the band in the 1947 film The Fabulous Dorseys.

Foster re­mained with Dorsey un­til mid-1948, when he’d left by June to be­gin a solo ca­reer. He soon found him­self in high de­mand on both the air­waves and in the record­ing stu­dio. Foster worked on sev­eral ra­dio pro­grams, in­clud­ing The Bill Williams Show on WOR in 1949, The Rayburn and Finch Show on CBS in 1951[1], and Dave Garroway’s NBC pro­gram in 1952. During the 1950s, he also had his own pro­gram, which first ran on ABC and later on CBS from at least 1952 to 1958. He also ap­peared on Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club in Chicago in 1953 be­fore join­ing Galen Drake’s pro­gram in 1954, which var­i­ously ran on both ABC and CBS through at least 1958. He also sang on Main Street Music Hall on CBS in 1954. In 1950, he ap­peared on the WABD[2] tele­vi­sion pro­gram Once Upon a Tune. He also ap­peared on Drake’s 1957 ABC tele­vi­sion pro­gram.

Foster recorded with Hugo Winterhalter’s or­ches­tra on MGM in early 1949. During the last half of that year, he be­came vo­cal­ist for that la­bel’s house or­ches­tra, led by Russ Case. The group­ing was an at­tempt to mimic Decca’s suc­cess with us­ing Gordon Jenkins to do quick record­ings of pop­u­lar songs that oth­er­wise weren’t be­ing done by the la­bel’s stars. In 1950, Foster recorded with Shep Fields on MGM and Billy Butterfield’s band on the London la­bel. He also recorded solo on both the London and Eastly la­bels that year.

In 1951, Foster recorded sev­eral more times with Winterhalter again as well as with Bob Dewey’s or­ches­tra, both on Victor. He recorded solo on the new in­die PAB la­bel and did one side for Atlantic that same year. Foster signed with the Abbey la­bel in early 1952 and again recorded with Winterhalter late that year. In 1953, he recorded with Xavier Cugat on Victor and Gordon Jenkins on Decca. In 1954, he recorded for Bell and RCAs Camden la­bel as well as on the Italian Nightingale la­bel. Foster sang with the Chappaqua High School Kids choir on Coral in early 1955 and both Jenkins and Art Mooney later that year. He was back in the stu­dio with Jenkins in 1956 and then did solo work on Coral.

1957 saw Foster singing on Camden’s low-priced Hits of 57 al­bum. He went in the stu­dio with the Dick Jacobs Orchestra in 1959, on Coral, and sang on the 20th Century Fox con­cept al­bum Rain in 1960. Every song ei­ther had rain or sug­gested rain in the ti­tle. He recorded solo on Jubilee in 1960 and Mohawk in 1962. He also ap­peared on a spe­cial al­bum of Academy Award win­ning songs put out by Doubleday Books in 1961. Foster’s last record­ing was for the Gold Coin la­bel in 1965.

From the late 1950s on­ward, Foster worked as a staff vo­cal­ist at CBS, of­ten ap­pear­ing on the net­work’s spe­cial pro­grams, singing with their house or­ches­tra. He had no re­grets about not be­com­ing fa­mous. In a 1957 in­ter­view, he said about his ca­reer: I make a good liv­ing. I live at home with my wife and son and I don’t have to go on the road. I’m happy the way things are.” In the same in­ter­view, Foster also gave his opin­ion on vo­cal­ists of the rock and roll era: I feel the mu­sic has sunk to a pretty low level. So many of the hit record per­form­ers sim­ply can’t sing — they are off-key most of the time. The sad part is that they think they’re singing well.”

Foster did go on the road one last time, in 1965 with Skitch Henderson’s or­ches­tra. Stuart Foster passed away in 1968 at the young age of 49.[3]

Notes

  1. Rayburn is Gene Rayburn, more fa­mously known as host of the pop­u­lar 1970s game show Match Game.
  2. Then the call sign of cur­rent New York sta­tion WNYW.
  3. Some on­line sources list Foster’s death as February 8th. Foster, how­ever, passed away on January 8th, as noted by Billboard mag­a­zine in their January 20, 1968, is­sue. The February date can be traced to a February 13th col­umn by show busi­ness gos­sip colum­nist Jack O’Brian, who re­lated that Foster had died this week.” Given the usual 4-6 week lead of syn­di­cated colum­nists in that era, that about matches the January 8 date. Other less thor­ough re­searchers have not cor­rected for that lead.

Music

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  • A Handful of Stars
    Ina Ray Hutton (Stuart Foster), Okeh (1940)
  • Always
    Guy Lombardo (Stuart Foster), Decca (1944)
  • Poor Little Rhode Island
    Guy Lombardo (The Lombardo Trio, Stuart Foster), Decca (1944)
  • (All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings
    Guy Lombardo (Stuart Foster), Decca (1944)
  • The Trolley Song
    Guy Lombardo (The Lombardo Trio, Stuart Foster), Decca (1944)
  • That Went Out with Button Shoes
    Tommy Dorsey (Stuart Foster, Pat Brewster, The Sentimentalists), RCA Victor (1945)
  • Never Too Late to Pray
    Tommy Dorsey (Stuart Foster, The Sentimentalists), RCA Victor (1945)
  • A Door Will Open
    Tommy Dorsey (Stuart Foster, The Sentimentalists), RCA Victor (1945)
  • Nevada
    Tommy Dorsey (Stuart Foster, The Sentimentalists), RCA Victor (1945)
  • Aren't You Glad You're You?
    Tommy Dorsey (Stuart Foster), RCA Victor (1945)
  • Where Did You Learn to Love?
    Tommy Dorsey (Stuart Foster, The Sentimentalists), RCAC Victor (1946)
  • Like a Leaf in the Wind
    Tommy Dorsey (Stuart Foster, The Sentimentalists), RCA Victor (1947)
  • The Things I Love
    Tommy Dorsey (Stuart Foster), RCA Victor (1947)
  • Mad About You
    Russ Case (Stuart Foster), MGM (1949)
  • Alice in Wonderland
    Hugo Winterhalter (Stuart Foster), RCA Victor (1951)
  • I'll Never Know Why
    Hugo Winterhalter (Stuart Foster), RCA Victor (1951)

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

Sources

  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. The Online Discographical Project. Accessed 31 Mar. 2018.
  3. “Stuart Foster.” IMDb. Accessed 31 Mar. 2018.
  4. Doudna, William L. “Notes to You.” The Wisconsin State Journal [Madison, Wisconsin] 2 Oct. 1940: 3.
  5. Advertisement. Fitchburg Sentinel [Fitchburg, Massachusetts] 23 Apr. 1941: 5.
  6. Advertisement. Fitchburg Sentinel [Fitchburg, Massachusetts] 23 Apr. 1941: 5.
  7. Advertisement. Cumberland Evening Times 25 Jul. 1941: 17.
  8. “Vaudeville Reviews: Paramount, New York.” Billboard 14 Mar. 1942: 20.
  9. “On the Stand: Ina Ray Hutton.” Billboard 15 Aug. 1942: 22.
  10. “Vaudeville Reviews: Orpheum, Los Angeles.” Billboard 14 Nov. 1942: 16.
  11. “Vaudeville Reviews: Earle, Philadelphia.” Billboard 4 Dec. 1943: 21.
  12. “Vaudeville Reviews: Orpheum, Los Angeles.” Billboard 13 May 1944: 26.
  13. “Ina Ray Hutton Disbands Ork.” Billboard 19 Aug. 1944: 15.
  14. “Ina Ray Hutton Sets Band for Theater Dates.” Billboard 9 Dec. 1944: 22.
  15. Advertisement. Manitowoc Herald Times [Manitowoc, Wisconsin] 29 Dec. 1944: 2.
  16. “Popular Record Releases.” Billboard 20 Dec. 1944: 20.
  17. “Music Popularity Chart.” Billboard 27 Jan. 1945: 17.
  18. “Music Popularity Chart.” Billboard 3 Feb. 1945: 19.
  19. “Music Popularity Chart.” Billboard 10 Feb. 1945: 19.
  20. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 7 Apr. 1945: 25.
  21. “Most-Played Juke Box Records.” Billboard 12 May. 1945: 25.
  22. “Most-Played Juke Box Records.” Billboard 19 May. 1945: 25.
  23. “Cattle, Free Show Hurt T.D., Bob C.” Billboard 9 Nov. 1946: 19.
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  25. “Best Liked Vocalists.” Billboard 2 Aug. 1947: 20.
  26. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 26 Jul. 1947: 33.
  27. “T. Dorsey Pulls 25G at Circle.” Billboard 29 Nov. 1947: 41.
  28. “Vaudeville Reviews: Capitol, New York.” Billboard 3 Jan. 1948: 35.
  29. “Music as Written.” Billboard 3 Jul. 1948: 36.
  30. Advertisement. Lowell Sun 28 Sep. 1948: 1[.
  31. “Favorite Male Band Vocalist.” Billboard 2 Oct. 1948: 22.
  32. “Radio and Television Program Reviews: Bill Williams Show.” Billboard 22 Jan. 1949: 9.
  33. Advertisement. Billboard 23 Apr. 1949: 23.
  34. “MGM Tries Date With House Ork.” Billboard 25 Jun. 1949: 15.
  35. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 30 Jul. 1949: 56.
  36. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 8 Oct. 1949: 36.
  37. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 12 Nov. 1949: 34.
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  39. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 22 Apr. 1950: 42.
  40. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 13 May 1950: 35.
  41. Advertisement. Billboard 17 Jun. 1950: 22.
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  43. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 3 Jun. 1950: 116.
  44. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 20 Jan. 1951: 32.
  45. “PAB, New Pop Diskery, Issues 1st.” Billboard 27 Jan. 1951: 12.
  46. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 10 Feb. 1951: 35.
  47. “Another Look.” Billboard 24 Feb. 1951: 9.
  48. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 7 Apr. 1951: 40.
  49. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 28 Apr. 1951: 40.
  50. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 23 Jun. 1951: 36.
  51. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 21 Jul. 1951: 31.
  52. “Television Radio Reviews.” Billboard 18 Aug. 1951: 9.
  53. No Headline. Billboard 23 Feb. 1952: 43.
  54. “Advance Record Releases.” Billboard 12 Apr. 1952: 42.
  55. “News Capsules Coast to Coast.” Billboard 20 Sep. 1952: 9.
  56. “Reviews of This Week's New Records: Popular.” Billboard 20 Dec. 1952: 38.
  57. Advertisement. Billboard 11 Jul. 1953: 29.
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  59. “Music as Written.” Billboard 24 Oct. 1953: 64.
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  61. “CBS Features Galen Drake.” Billboard 2 Jan. 1954: 2.
  62. Advertisement. Billboard 6 Mar. 1954: 15.
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  65. “Music as Written.” Billboard 1 May 1954: 20.
  66. “Camden to Release Pop Hit Groupings.” Billboard 18 Dec. 1954: 11.
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  68. “Reviews of New Pop Records.” Billboard 6 Aug. 1955: 56.
  69. “Race On for Hit Yule Tune.” Billboard 5 Nov. 1955: 20.
  70. Advertisement. Billboard 21 Jan. 1956: 30.
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  72. “Galen Drake Set for ABC.” Billboard 29 Dec. 1956: 3.
  73. “Reviews of New Pop Records.” Billboard 19 Jan. 1957: 44.
  74. Kleiner, Dick. “Meet Stu Foster, Unsung Singer.” Blythevill (Ark.) Courier News 25 Mar. 1957: 9.
  75. “Low-Priced.” Billboard 2 Dec. 1957: 31.
  76. “Radio and TV Programs.” Billboard 13 Feb. 1958: 38.
  77. “Drake to Opine From Pfizer Lab.” Billboard 12 May 1958: 9.
  78. “Reviews and Ratings of New Albums.” Billboard 3 Aug. 1959: 32.
  79. “Reviews and Ratings of New Albums.” Billboard 11 Apr. 1960: 49.
  80. “Reviews of New Pop Records.” Billboard 4 Jul. 1960: 39.
  81. “Doubleday Will Offer Records.” Billboard 27 Feb. 1961: 3.
  82. “Reviews of New Singles.” Billboard 15 Dec. 1962: 22.
  83. “26-Piece Salute to John Mercer.” Billboard 31 Aug. 1963: 41.
  84. “Vox Jox.” Billboard 14 Dec. 1963: 37.
  85. “A Radio in Every Room Campaign On.” Billboard 18 Apr. 1964: 12.
  86. “Vox Jox.” Billboard 5 Sep. 1964: 20.
  87. “Spotlight Winners of the Week.” Billboard 20 Mar. 1965: 12.
  88. “Skitch Made Honorary Texan By Gov. Connally.” Wichita Falls Times 17 Oct. 1965: 11.
  89. “Stuart Foster Dies.” Billboard 20 Jan. 1968: 10.
  90. O'Brian, Jack. “Voice of Broadway.” Stroudsburg Pocono Record 13 Feb. 1968: 5.