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Favorite Singer(s) Turned Actor(s) or Vice Versa


speedracer5
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I was watching one of my favorite musicals, There's No Business Like Show Business, and was reading up on the cast members.  One cast member, Johnnie Ray who plays the oldest sibling in 'Business,' apparently was a singer--a singer who Tony Bennett says "is the true father of rock and roll."  This was interesting to me, because aside from the songs he sings in this film, I don't believe I've ever heard a Johnnie Ray song.  It appears that he was prolific in the 1950s, his main claim to fame is his rendition of the song "Cry."  This discovery inspired this thread:

 

Who are your favorite singers turned actors? Or actors turned singers? Or perhaps someone who dabbled in both genres equally, e.g. Frank Sinatra? What are some of your favorite songs of theirs?  I'm thinking more of people who actually released albums and singles.  Not actors who sang in films but didn't release albums (e.g. Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire). 

 

I'm always looking for recommendations whether it's movies, music or whatever else.

 

Here are some of mine:

 

-The Rat Pack (Sinatra, Dean Martin & Sammy Davis Jr)

 

I love Sinatra's version of "One For My Baby (and One More for the Road)"

 

Martin's version of "Sway" and "Volare" are a couple of my favorites of his songs.

 

I love Davis' version of "A Lot of Livin' to Do." 

 

-Rosemary Clooney

 

It's a shame she wasn't able to appear in more musicals, but I thought she was fantastic in White Christmas, especially when she sang "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me." 

 

-Doris Day

 

She has a beautiful voice.  I especially like her signature song, "Que Sera Sera" 

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Interesting thread.

 

One of MY favorite singers-turned-actors is BOBBY DARIN, who turned in some good performances in CAPTAIN NEWMAN MD.  and PRESSURE POINT with Sidney Poitier.

 

Then of course, there's ELVIS.

 

"Actors turned Singers"?  Well, right now the only one I can think of is RICKY NELSON, who started out as an actor on his Mom & Dad's TV show and segued into a "pop" star.  I know there are more, but my mind is drawing a blank!

 

 

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Johnny Ray was the biggest singer of his day - - although he didn't sing rock and roll. he's just a very good singer.

 

But if you want to discuss singers in movies you have to go way back to the beginning of the talkies - - Al Jolson was the biggest singer of his day-- you could say decades starting with around World War One.

 

Jolie opened up talking pictures to the World - - that would be the first great singer who became a movie actor/ movie star with the Warner Brothers Jazz Singer 1929.

 

Actually was the template and everyone else just followed - -

 

A singer would be with an orchestra or solo, so he or she would be on the radio and/ or have hit records and next thing you know they're in a movie because people want to pay money to see them and to see what they look like. After all there's no television.

 

Perry Como and and Dinah Shore both appeared in the movies in the forties. Which led them to become the two biggest stars in variety programming in the classic television age of the 1950s.

 

But we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

 

You have only to study the career Bing Crosby, if you want to understand how a singer can become a mega movie star. Before that Crosby was of course a Radio Star, as was Jolson.

 

However, Jolson had been a mega Broadway star first.

 

Bing came on With a band background.

 

The next big thing to come along was Frank Sinatra who also came on from a band background. I think it was the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

 

Everybody else just kind of followed along.

 

To answer your question my favorite Entertainer is Sammy Davis jr. I had the privilege of attending one of his last concert tours.

 

Also, He was truly one of our great movie dancers - all around tap dancing and Jazz, although he didn't get to demonstrate it very often in the movies due to the racial discrimination of the era.

 

He was also truly a great singer, but he was a great actor as well! That's why he's my favorite Entertainer because he actually did all these things as well as a person who was just doing one thing.

 

Oh, did I forget to mention that also he was a top-ranked professional celebrity imitator?

 

To top it all off he also appeared in Broadway shows that were big hits - - Golden Boy, Mr. Wonderful and Stop the world I want to get off.

 

When they were making Ocean's 11 and appearing in Vegas at the same time, Sammy would make jokes that he didn't want to sing in the shows because Sinatra and Martin were better singers.

 

But all three of them were great.

 

 

I still haven't answered your question - - the answer would be Judy Garland and everybody knows how she started in Show Business and how she became a great actress, as well as America's most compelling singer.

 

I don't know if people have forgotten that Judy was nominated for an Academy Award one time for a definitely non-singing dramatic role in Stanley Kramer's Judgment at Nuremberg--

 

about the Anti-Semitic War Crimes of the Nazi leaders of the Third Reich.

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GwbrHMS.jpg

 

Hunter essentially launched the "Teen Idol" period of the rock and roll era. Many young actors would release records and some would have hits: Shelly Fabares ("Johnny Angel"), Patty Duke, Sal Mineo, Johnny Crawford, Paul Petersen.... Some of these records were written by talented Brill Building songwriters like Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

 

Although Paul Petersen's biggest hit was the maudlin "My Dad", he later recorded "She Rides With Me", written and produced by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, which is considered a cult classic:

 

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Joan Weldon (Them!) began as a singer, then made a few movies and TV shows and then back to singing. Did opera and stage before and after movies and TV.  Apparently sang on a TV series in 

55, This is Your Music, but only lasted four episodes.

 

I get catalogs of "old" music on CD's and interesting how many TV and movie "stars" of the 50's and 60's released albums.  I think every movie and TV star under 25 released at least one album - and many are currently available on CD.

Maybe it was the Ricky Nelson effect.  A guy who couldn't sing or act on TV could make records and sell a lot of them.  So everybody tried it.  Paul Peterson was terrible, at least the singing on The Donna Reed Show.

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Joan Weldon (Them!) began as a singer, then made a few movies and TV shows and then back to singing. Did opera and stage before and after movies and TV.  Apparently sang on a TV series in 

55, This is Your Music, but only lasted four episodes.

 

I get catalogs of "old" music on CD's and interesting how many TV and movie "stars" of the 50's and 60's released albums.  I think every movie and TV star under 25 released at least one album - and many are currently available on CD.

Maybe it was the Ricky Nelson effect.  A guy who couldn't sing or act on TV could make records and sell a lot of them.  So everybody tried it.  Paul Peterson was terrible, at least the singing on The Donna Reed Show.

 

I like Ricky Nelson!  I especially like his "Travelin' Man" and "Garden Party."  The thing is, I've never seen The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, so to me, Nelson is only a singer--a singer who tragically died in a plane crash. 

 

I agree with "The Ricky Nelson" effect.  Was he one of the first teenaged actors to become a teen idol? Perhaps it's like with any money making entity.  If Studio A produces Ricky Nelson who ends up being successful and making lots of $$, then Studio B, Studio C, Studio D and so on will all try to make their own "Ricky Nelsons" hoping to attain the same type of success.  Maybe another one will catch on, but usually the "original" is the one who is remembered years later. 

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Hunter essentially launched the "Teen Idol" period of the rock and roll era. Many young actors would release records and some would have hits: Shelly Fabares ("Johnny Angel"), Patty Duke, Sal Mineo, Johnny Crawford, Paul Petersen.... Some of these records were written by talented Brill Building songwriters like Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

 

Although Paul Petersen's biggest hit was the maudlin "My Dad", he later recorded "She Rides With Me", written and produced by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, which is considered a cult classic:

 

I'd be interested in hearing some of the 1950s/1960s teen idol music.  I think I've heard "Johnny Angel."  I wasn't aware that Patty Duke or Sal Mineo produced music.  I did know that Duke sang, as evidenced in Valley of the Dolls

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Johnny Ray was the biggest singer of his day - - although he didn't sing rock and roll. he's just a very good singer.

 

But if you want to discuss singers in movies you have to go way back to the beginning of the talkies - - Al Jolson was the biggest singer of his day-- you could say decades starting with around World War One.

 

Jolie opened up talking pictures to the World - - that would be the first great singer who became a movie actor/ movie star with the Warner Brothers Jazz Singer 1929.

 

Actually was the template and everyone else just followed - -

 

A singer would be with an orchestra or solo, so he or she would be on the radio and/ or have hit records and next thing you know they're in a movie because people want to pay money to see them and to see what they look like. After all there's no television.

 

Perry Como and and Dinah Shore both appeared in the movies in the forties. Which led them to become the two biggest stars in variety programming in the classic television age of the 1950s.

 

But we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

 

You have only to study the career Bing Crosby, if you want to understand how a singer can become a mega movie star. Before that Crosby was of course a Radio Star, as was Jolson.

 

However, Jolson had been a mega Broadway star first.

 

Bing came on With a band background.

 

The next big thing to come along was Frank Sinatra who also came on from a band background. I think it was the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

 

Everybody else just kind of followed along.

 

To answer your question my favorite Entertainer is Sammy Davis jr. I had the privilege of attending one of his last concert tours.

 

Also, He was truly one of our great movie dancers - all around tap dancing and Jazz, although he didn't get to demonstrate it very often in the movies due to the racial discrimination of the era.

 

He was also truly a great singer, but he was a great actor as well! That's why he's my favorite Entertainer because he actually did all these things as well as a person who was just doing one thing.

 

Oh, did I forget to mention that also he was a top-ranked professional celebrity imitator?

 

To top it all off he also appeared in Broadway shows that were big hits - - Golden Boy, Mr. Wonderful and Stop the world I want to get off.

 

When they were making Ocean's 11 and appearing in Vegas at the same time, Sammy would make jokes that he didn't want to sing in the shows because Sinatra and Martin were better singers.

 

But all three of them were great.

 

 

I still haven't answered your question - - the answer would be Judy Garland and everybody knows how she started in Show Business and how she became a great actress, as well as America's most compelling singer.

 

I don't know if people have forgotten that Judy was nominated for an Academy Award one time for a definitely non-singing dramatic role in Stanley Kramer's Judgment at Nuremberg--

 

about the Anti-Semitic War Crimes of the Nazi leaders of the Third Reich.

 

Thanks for your comments.  I love Judy.  She's someone who was discovered because of her voice and was able to use that to start a second career--even if she would have rather appeared in some films where she could try something different other than singing and dancing.  One of my favorites of her non-singing films is The Clock.  This is such a sweet film and Judy and Robert Walker did an excellent job as the young lovers in the whirlwind courtship. 

 

I also really like Sammy Davis Jr.  It's a shame that he attained his fame during the era of Segregation.  I wonder if he'd still be remembered today if he hadn't teamed up with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.  I believe that Sinatra and Martin were known to make some rather inappropriate jokes about Davis during their Rat Pack shows, but it appears that Davis took the jokes in stride and wasn't offended.  He has such a great voice and stage presence that he's a joy to watch.  Next time I'm at the music store, I may need to get myself a Sammy Davis Jr album.  

 

I like Bing, but some of his early music is harder for me to listen to.  I'm not sure if it's the music itself or perhaps the style of the time or the quality of the recording, but oftentimes I find the 1930s male crooner to sound rather tinny and nasally.  I like Bing's singing in his 1940s-1960s films, and of course "White Christmas" is the only version worth listening to during the holiday season.  I also love Bing's unique turn of phrase in his films.  He seems to use some type of musician jive talk or something--it's fun to listen to. 

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Robert Mitchum and The Ballad of Thunder Road.    The song made the Billboard Hot 100 twice, in 1958 and 1962, and while it never peaked higher than #62, it racked up 21 total weeks in the chart.

 

Mitchum recorded two albums,  Calypso — is like so,  being released in 1957 and 10 years later That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings.

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Robert Mitchum and The Ballad of Thunder Road.    The song made the Billboard Hot 100 twice, in 1958 and 1962, and while it never peaked higher than #62, it racked up 21 total weeks in the chart.

 

Mitchum recorded two albums,  Calypso — is like so,  being released in 1957 and 10 years later That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings.

 

I hadn't realized that Robert Mitchum was such a good singer until I heard him singing in The Night of the Hunter.  I'd love to hear his Calypso album.  That looks like something I'll need to look for. 

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I'd be interested in hearing some of the 1950s/1960s teen idol music.  I think I've heard "Johnny Angel."  I wasn't aware that Patty Duke or Sal Mineo produced music.  I did know that Duke sang, as evidenced in Valley of the Dolls

 

You can find most if not all of them on YT. Tab Hunter and Shelley Fabares had the biggest hits, both reaching #1 on the pop charts.

 

You would shocked at some of the people who put out records. Such as:

 

Or:

 

Or even:

Made #5 on the pop chart!

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Two iconic singers were in "Pete Kelly's Blues".  Ella Fitzgerald only had 6 film and television credits as an actress, but I thought she did well in her short scenes in this movie.  Peggy Lee only had 17 film and TV credits, but her performance in this movie was good enough to earn her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1956.  Too bad they didn't get more opportunities, but then again, maybe they considered themselves singers first and thespians second.

 

Lorne Greene had an illustrious career as "Bonanza" patriarch Ben Cartwright.  In 1964, his song "Ringo" was a #1 hit in the U.S.

 

Ann Francis had a pretty good singing career in her day.  She wasn't a bad actress either.

 

Connie Stevens was known more as a singer too, but I liked her in "Two on a Guillotine".

 

Fred Astaire did a fair amount of singing in his films.  I liked his performance in "On the Beach".

 

Connie Francis was decent in "Where the Boys Are".  I think she sang the title song too.

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Connie Stevens was known more as a singer too, but I liked her in "Two on a Guillotine".

 

A curious bit of music trivia:

 

In 1970 Connie Stevens recorded a song called "Keep Growing Strong":

 

Two years later, the same song would be recorded by the Philly Soul group The Stylistics under the title "Betcha By Golly Wow", and this version would be a #3 pop hit:

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A curious bit of music trivia:

 

In 1970 Connie Stevens recorded a song called "Keep Growing Strong":

 

Two years later, the same song would be recorded by the Philly Soul group The Stylistics under the title "Betcha By Golly Wow", and this version would be a #3 pop hit:

 

I grew up listening to that song and never knew that. I guess we really do learn something new everyday.

 

When I was young watching Emergency on t.v., I never knew that Julie London (who played the nurse) had a full singing career long before that show. And had acted in many movies too (although, she isn't known as a great actress). And Bobby Troup (who played the doctor) was not only her husband but, also was a pianist composer. I have no clue which came first but, some of the stations I listen to play her music, which I like. 

 

I actually found an internet station that plays lots of tunes recorded by movie stars, Some surprising. Like I didn't know Joan Crawford was a singer. But, in those days, many performers tended to sing, dance and/or act. Really talented folks they were.

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Actors turned singers?

Not a favorite, but someone had to be the one to post it:

 

(And two years before Grease, no less--Probably even gave them the idea.  In the 70's, if you were a TV idol, you had to be a pop idol.  There was no distinction and no choice.  At least Olivia Newton-John was already a singer.)

 

As for singers turned actors, we were just discussing Dolly Parton on the "9 to 5" thread, and although she was a natural, she didn't get too many roles after Disney's "Straight Talk".  (One of the Touchstone comedies that cropped up like dandelions in the 90's.)

And I'm almost too young to remember when Bette Midler actually sang, before getting an Oscar nomination for "The Rose".

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Oh yeah, a LOT of movie "idols", those supposedly favored by teen audiences tried their hand at being "pop" idols too.  Like TAB HUNTER and the like.  Even JOHNNY CRAWFORD from THE RIFLEMAN did a few LPs (I found an old LP of his some time ago in a thrift shop).

 

Most didn't get that far, and fell flat and most of them had to keep their "day jobs" as most people saw their efforts as a way to squeeze an extra dollar out of their fame and a novelty as best.  Most had good voices though, but never really achieved much "fame" out of their efforts in that arena.

 

Then there were the very famous singers whose agents or other handlers tried to cash them in on ELVIS' coattails as actors that did maybe one or two movies and faded from the medium.  Like ROY ORBISON making THE FASTEST GUITAR IN THE WEST.  And just for fun, I'll throw in BOB DYLAN and his cinematic attempt in PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID.  Bob didn't do too badly, I thought, but it never really led him to doing more films.

 

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Oh yeah, a LOT of movie "idols", those supposedly favored by teen audiences tried their hand at being "pop" idols too. Like TAB HUNTER and the like. Even JOHNNY CRAWFORD from THE RIFLEMAN did a few LPs (I found an old LP of his some time ago in a thrift shop).

 

Most didn't get that far, and fell flat and most of them had to keep their "day jobs" as most people saw their efforts as a way to squeeze an extra dollar out of their fame and a novelty as best. Most had good voices though, but never really achieved much "fame" out of their efforts in that arena.

 

Then there were the very famous singers whose agents or other handlers tried to cash them in on ELVIS' coattails as actors that did maybe one or two movies and faded from the medium. Like ROY ORBISON making THE FASTEST GUITAR IN THE WEST. And just for fun, I'll throw in BOB DYLAN and his cinematic attempt in PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID. Bob didn't do too badly, I thought, but it never really led him to doing more films.

 

Sepiatone

 

I always loved legitimate music and legitimate artists from an early age-- Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, people like that--

 

But being young I just couldn't help but be seduced by all those good-looking guys who acted on TV and thought they could sing as well.

 

I bought Ed Kookie Byrnes and Richard Chamberlain records.

 

Those were just cheap 45s, but I have to admit that I actually bought albums for Vince Edwards and George Maharis.

 

George was certainly a better singer than Ben Casey - - oh, how the album covers were so handsome, I couldn't help myself.

 

On George's first album he sang that terrific song by Bobby Troup--

Get your Kicks on Route 66.

 

George had several albums that sold pretty well. And he was so popular on television that I always thought Marty Milner was really jealous of him.

 

Near the end I heard they didn't get along very well.

 

I didn't have a lot of empathy for Marty Milner at the time.

 

But now that I know he had a quite a background in the old movies, I can understand why maybe he was a little mifted that the public, i.e. girls were so crazy about George.

 

I have the DVDs now and I see that Marty was certainly a good actor at the time and not bad-looking - -

 

but George simply was doing something different in terms of his acting technique that seemed so much more fresh at the time. And so much more in tune with the times-- as they were certainly getting ready to change.

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I grew up listening to that song and never knew that. I guess we really do learn something new everyday.

 

When I was young watching Emergency on t.v., I never knew that Julie London (who played the nurse) had a full singing career long before that show. And had acted in many movies too (although, she isn't known as a great actress). And Bobby Troup (who played the doctor) was not only her husband but, also was a pianist composer. I have no clue which came first but, some of the stations I listen to play her music, which I like.

 

I actually found an internet station that plays lots of tunes recorded by movie stars, Some surprising. Like I didn't know Joan Crawford was a singer. But, in those days, many performers tended to sing, dance and/or act. Really talented folks they were.

Gerald--

 

There's an old joke about Julie London as a singer - - she wasn't that bad maybe you've seen her singing in the movie The Girl Can't Help It. The song was a big hit for Little Richard and ironically it may be the only Little Richard hit that he didn't write himself. Bobby Troup wrote it.

 

The joke bout Julie London was that men would buy her albums just for the album cover and throw away the record.

 

But when I very young the big TV show was Dragnet. Jack Webb not only starred in Dragnet but he created and produced it. After that breakthrough hit, he became a tremendous Giant in the TV industry.

 

He was always coming back with modern versions of Dragnet and he also had a TV show called Adam-12.

 

Well, Jack Webb also produced and owned Emergency. And the reason I brought him up was because Julie London was his first wife.

 

And on the last thing that you mentioned about the multi talented people in old Hollywood-- it is true that the Studio's gave the talent that they were grooming all kinds of lessons.

 

However, a number of the stars came from Vaudeville and Broadway where to make a living you always ended up doing a song and dance at one time or another.

 

That's certainly true about the big-time musical stars like Fred Astaire Eleanor Powell or Gene Kelly and Judy Garland.

 

But people like Bob Hope, George Burns and Gracie Allen were all vaudevillians who knew how to dance in order to enhance their act.

 

Some stars who came from the Broadway chorus like Vera-Ellen and June Allyson continued on in musicals in Hollywood.

 

However, one chorus boy, James Cagney, primarily did drama, but his public was thrilled to find out that he could actually hoof with the best of them.

 

And then of course there were nightclubs. Lena Horne, George Raft and Ruby Keeler started as hoofers in nightclubs in New York City.

 

They were all such amazing talents.

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Gerald--

 

There's an old joke about Julie London as a singer - - she wasn't that bad maybe you've seen her singing in the movie The Girl Can't Help It. The song was a big hit for Little Richard and ironically it may be the only Little Richard hit that he didn't write himself. Bobby Troup wrote it.

 

The joke bout Julie London was that men would buy her albums just for the album cover and throw away the record.

 

But when I very young the big TV show was Dragnet. Jack Webb not only starred in Dragnet but he created and produced it. After that breakthrough hit, he became a tremendous Giant in the TV industry.

 

He was always coming back with modern versions of Dragnet and he also had a TV show called Adam-12.

 

Well, Jack Webb also produced and owned Emergency. And the reason I brought him up was because Julie London was his first wife.

 

 

 

I have learned about those things in recent years. Jack Webb brought Dragnet from radio . It was apparently the only program to show how detectives do their jobs. Similar with Emergency and Adam 12. 

 

I knew he was a big wheel in television. I figured he gave them both jobs on Emergency so she wouldn't have to ask him for money when her music career dried up.  :lol: . She even admitted her voice wasn't much in an interview I saw. She was good on that show though.

 

I like her music in the rotation with other  songs of that genre. I guess compared to the other singers of that day, she might not be the best but, that was hall of fame talent back then. Who could compete ?

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