Thank you, eBay.
Thank you, Culver Service.
Lee is rounder-faced than perhaps we are used to seeing her, posing with her cigarette held over the piano keys, “going through new songs” for the photographer, I assume. She was born on October 8, 1908, so she would be at most in her very early twenties when this photograph was taken, already a known recording artist and radio star. Was the setting a photographer’s studio or was it, perhaps, Victor Young’s apartment — with a large portrait, lit from above?
On the piano, visible, is the sheet music for NO MORE LOVE — which Joe Venuti recorded on November 3, 1933, suggesting that this portrait is of that vintage. It was a Harry Warren – Al Dubin song from the Eddie Cantor film, ROMAN SCANDALS, where it was performed by Ruth Etting.
Lee did not record NO MORE LOVE, but Etting did — so those who can hear Lee’s voice can imagine her version of this song:
To the right of Miss Wiley’s pencil and manuscript paper is the sheet music for the 1932 LOVE ME TONIGHT, with Mister Crosby on the cover.
The photograph is five inches by seven inches — far too small to contain all that we know, imagine, and love about Miss Wiley.
P.S. At close to 7 PM on February 28, a truly eager Wileyphile outbid everyone on eBay and won the photograph . . . $229.59. That’s what I call keen!
May your happiness increase!