Kitty Kallen ©2002JCMarion


Kitty Kallen was born in Philadelphia in 1922, and began her career as a child performer in radio programs such as "The Children's Hour". As a teenager she sang with the band of Jan Savitt, and later was a roommate of Dinah Shore as both were looking for their big break. At the age of seventeen she joined the band of Jack Teagarden and made her first recordings on August 23, 1939. "I'm Taking My Time With You" / "I Wanna Hat With Cherries" on Columbia #35224. By 1940, the Teagarden band was now recording on the Varsity label. Kallen moved to the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra replacing Helen O'Connell and was a vocalist on many tunes including the band's big hit recordings in 1944 of "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" (Decca #18571) and the number one and million selling "Besame Mucho" in a duet with Bob Eberle on Decca #18574.

Kitty Kallen left the Jimmy Dorsey band in late 1944 but soon was back in the spotlight, this time as vocalist with the band of trumpet ace Harry James. She sang on two million sellers in 1945 with James - "I'm Beginning To See The Light" on Columbia #36758 and the war ending anthem "It's Been A Long Long Time" on #36838. By 1946 Kitty Kallen did much work on radio such as the programs The Danny Kaye Show on CBS network, The David Rose Show also on CBS, and Alec Templeton Time on NBC. She also landed some appearances on television in the late 40s and looking to record on her own recorded on independent labels Musicraft - "Just The Other Day" / "Should I Tell You?" on #15068, and Signature - "Just My Luck" and "Why Does It Get Late So Early?" on #15074. Moving from those two Chicago based indie labels, Kallen went across town to sign with Mercury Records.

In the spring of 1949, Kitty Kallen had her first chart hit under her own name with "Kiss Me Sweet" with Mitch Miller on Mercury #5265 which made it to the top 30. Mercury #5291 - "Happy Talk" did not sell, but one year later Mercury #5417 - "Juke Box Annie" with Harry Geller's orchestra got to the number 17 position on the national best seller lists. In September of that year "Our Lady Of Fatima" recorded with singer Richard Hayes and Jimmy Caroll's orchestra on #5466 was a top ten seller that remained on the charts for three months. In early 1951 another duet with Hayes did even better, with a song from the film "Two Weeks With Love" called "The Aba Dabba Honeymoon" on #5586. With two consecutive solid hits, things were looking up for Kitty Kallen. However she all but disappeared from the music scene, and there were many reports that she had lost her voice, or was tired of the business. In any event Kitty Kallen was absent from the music scene for more than two years.

In late 1953, a Decca release by Kallen appeared on #28813 - "Heartless Love" and "Lonely" did nothing but 28904 - "Are You Looking For A Sweetheart?" charted into the top 30. That was just a warmup for the recently returned vocalist who was on the verge of a huge year in 1954. A song written by a Richmond, Virginia disc jockey and a music editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch called "Little Things Mean A Lot" was recorded on Decca #29037 in the spring of the year. The record was a monster hit, one of the biggest of the post war era that stayed at the number one spot for nine consecutive weeks and remained on the charts for close to seven months. It sold more than two million copies and certainly cemented Kallen's place in pop music history.Four months later it was Kitty Kallen again with a million selling national hit - "In The Chapel In The Moonlight" on Decca #29130. The record reached the number four position and remained on the charts for four months. For extra measure "I Want You All To Myself" on Decca #29268 closed out the year for Kallen by reaching the number 23 position on the best sellers charts.

1955 was the year that rock took over and Kitty Kallen would seem to be just one more casualty from the pop music field. But - with Decca #29776, Kitty with Georgie Shaw charted with the tune "Go On With The Wedding", a top forty seller. in early 1956. Then she was gone from the scene again. But - it is 1959 and Kallen is on the Columbia label. "If I Give My Heart To You" on Columbia #41473 is a national hit as the ballad tune gets into the top 35 best selling records. Once again Kallen seemed to leave the scene. It was now the early sixties and the world was on the cusp of the British Invasion that would change the face of music forever, but - RCA #8124 was released in early 1963 with "My Coloring Book" and Kitty Kallen was back on the hit charts. The recording lasted two months on the charts and got to the number 18 slot on the best sellers.

So - it had been quite a career. Almost a quarter century of recordings that moved through the big band years, the post war pop scene, the first wave of rock 'n roll, and at the birth of modern rock. Kitty Kallen was a recurring symbol of American pop music for the ages. If she had only been responsible for her 1954 hits that would have been memorable, but the total legacy of her recorded output from the thirties to the sixties make her a vocal stylist for the ages.

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