A LEE WILEY PORTRAIT

Thank you, eBay.

Thank you, Culver Service.

Lee Wiley back

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?

Lee Wiley front

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!

9 responses to “A LEE WILEY PORTRAIT

  1. dwayt@frontier.com

    Michael, thanks much for the photo. I always love my CD ,though late in her career, performing with Bobby Hackett as she sings “Back Home in Indiana” and “I’m Coming ,Virginia”

  2. I love her work, too. And — forgive the showing-off — I was at that 1972 concert, and it was magical.

  3. Lovely, Michael.Hope you’re well. 

    http://www.louisefarrell.com

    you should live every day like its your last day because one day you’re gonna be right.                                    ray charles |

  4. Absolutely one of my all-time favourite female jazz singers, bar none. A timeless voice; never tire of listening to Ms. Wiley.

  5. Dan Morgenstern

    Lee had so many different looks. What a drag that she turned into such a harridan at end…

    >

  6. Don "Zoot" Conner

    I wish Ms.Wiley had recorded this tune;I think it would have been right up her alley.Wow,following one of my all-time favorite critics is tough.Perhaps Ms. Wiley bossed Mr. Morgenstern around at a critical juncture in life?

  7. The sheet music on the piano is not the Harry Warren-Al Dubin song from “Roman Scandals” introduced by Miss Etting. The sheet music on the piano is a 1932 song called “No More Love (‘Cause There Is No More You)” by Carmen Lombardo and Cliff Friend.

  8. Ah, Peter — thank you for the accurate view of things. So there goes my elaborate conceit. And someone bought the photograph. I think I will leave my mistakes in place . . . alas.

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