Eileen Barton ©2002JCMarion


Eileen Barton started in show business at a very young age. Both of her parents (Elsie and Ben) were a vaudeville dance team and soon at the age of four she joined the family act. Soon in the nineteen thirties, she was a featured child performer with stars such as Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee, and Milton Berle. By the early nineteen forties she appeared on radio with Frank Sinatra and had a standby role in the Broadway musical "Best Foot Forward". She continued with occasional appearances on radio returning with Milton Berle on the "Let Yourself Go" radio program in 1945. She also put in many singing appearances at nightclubs in New York and other locations in the Northeast.
Her first record was with the orchestra of (Lyle) Skitch Henderson with "Would You Believe Me?" on Capitol #402. In late 1949 she found herself signed to record for the independent National Records label, a New York City based company usually specializing in Rhythm & Blues (The Ravens, Joe Turner, Wini Brown, for ex.). But in late 1949 Eileen cut an uptempo novelty tune introduced on the "Breakfast Club" radio show at that time, with an undercurrent of R & B called "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked A Cake" on National #9103. The record was an instant sensation. National knew right away that there was no way they would be able to keep up with the unprecedented demand and so they contracted for national distribution by Mercury Records which also put the record out on their label in certain parts of the country not covered by National. The numbers for this tune were phenomenal. It became one of the highest selling records on an independent label in history (even to the present day). It remained on the best seller charts for more than four months and held the number one spot in the country for as astounding twelve consecutive weeks ! While Eileen rode the crest of this huge hit, she and National readied the followup.
National #9109 "Dixieland Ball" and "Honey Won't You Honeymoon With Me?" disappeared almost immediately, and the cutesy-pie "May I Take Two Giant Steps?" on #9112 fared better getting into the top 25 hits of the week. Mercury gave Eileen a shot with "You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me" and "They Say It's Wonderful" on #5410, but that side also was virtually invisible. For the next year and a half, Barton struggled to keep her career going and had some success because of the lingering fame of her big hit record. In late 1951 she found herself signed to record for Coral Records a subsidiary label of Decca. The first release was a cover record of Johnny Ray's big hit for Columbia called "Cry". Despite the enormous popularity and explosive personality of Ray, Eileen Barton's version of the song did remarkably well. Coupled with "Hold Me Just A Little Longer" on Coral #60592 reached the top ten and remained on the charts for three months. "Wishin'" on #60651 barely charted, while the rest of the Coral releases in 1952 did not succeed at all - a duet with Buddy Greco on the tunes "Red Rose Waltz" and You Belong To Me" on #60753, "You Intrigue Me" on #60805, "Easy Easy baby" and "Some Folks Do And Some Folks Don't" on #608333, and the seasonal "Night Before Christmas Song" / "The Little Match Girl" on #60880.
In 1953, Barton recovered with some success with a couple of cover records. "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes" was a country tune with a tricky rhythm pattern, written and performed by Johnny Lee Wills (brother of country legend Bob). The pop version by Perry Como was a huge hit and Barton's cover on Coral #60882 got into the top 25 best sellers. The following release did even better. "Pretend" a big hit on Capitol for Nat Cole was recorded with the orchestra of Jack Pleis on #60927 and moved as high as number 17 in the nation. In late summer of the year, an original song "Toys" on #61019 b / w "Anytime Anywhere" did well, making the national top twenty. By 1954, Eileen Barton had moved to network radio in that medium's last dying days with a program for the CBS network. The musical variety show featured Barton and the combo of Alvy West.
During 1954 as the rock 'n roll juggernaut was gathering steam, Eileen Barton still managed to chart three times during the year. "Don't Ask Me Why" with Jack Pleis' orchestra was a top 25 seller as was "Pine Tree, Pine Over Me" with a collaborative effort along with Johnny Desmond and The McQuire Sisters on #61126. Her last charted effort was a good one with the song "Sway" (the flip side was "When Mama Calls") on #61185. The Coral release was a top 20 seller and spent six weeks on the charts. As the buying power of teenage America took over the recording industry, Eileen Barton's career as a pop music recording artist faded as did many others due to the massive changes in the trend of modern music. As a show business veteran since the age of three, she had a nice run during the first half of the decade of the fifties. "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked A Cake" is her signature song and her's alone, and for a time was a true icon of American popular music.
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