Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nan Wynn-Is Everybody Happy? (1943)

One of my favorite vocalists of the Big Band era was the lovely Nan Wynn (1915-71).
Nan not only sang for name Bands such as Hal Kemp,Raymond Scott and Hudson-DeLange but
she acted in films and had a busy career as a "ghost singer" for     Rita Hayworth in some of her musical films of the 40s.She was very lovely herself and got some lead roles in various musicals and comedies of the late 30s-40s. One of her best showcases is in Columbia's Is Everybody Happy?,a flashback film that
follows aspects of Ted Lewis' life while linking Ted's story with the two romantic leads. (Ted plays himself and sings a couple numbers at the start of the film).

Nan certainly had movie star looks- A Beautiful brunette with a curvy figure, she gets plenty of singing numbers playing" Kitty ",the girlfriend of Larry Park's character.
Nan could belt when she wanted to, but was most at home singing in a intimate voice-sort of a female Skinnay Ennis. One can hear the best of this style on Hal Kemp's Time on my Hands or her sides with Teddy Wilson in '39 and her own series of 8 sides for Vocalion (more on that later).

The story takes place in the pre WW1 days when Ted was starting his band. Kitty meets Ted and pianist Larry Parks and starts a romance with him. She gets to sing many wonderful standards-several with the verse. We hear Tell Me, Light of Silvery Moon ,I'm Just Wild about Harry, Am I Blue?,Cuddle up a little Closer, It had to be you, Long way to Tipperary and Pretty Baby.
 Nan also sings a Ruth Lowe composition,More than Anyone else in the World with Parks and gives a great rendition of St. Louis Blues in a corny but effective scene serenading a dying black friend accompanied by a choir.

Ted solves the problem of young lovers Bob Haymes(brother of Dick) and Lynn Merrick, and Nan and Larry appear at the end of the film as older characters.
Nan also had a good part in Warner Bros.' Shot in the Dark (1941) singing three songs. She has an excellent production number of Brazil in Columbia's Jam Session (1944) and has a plum role in Abbott and Costello's Pardon my Sarong (1943) playing a South Sea Island princess and singing two songs. Also check out her "Soundie" of Ain't Misbehavin' on Youtube. She never sounded or looked better. She overcame some medical issues to make a "Pop" comeback in the 50s then dissapeared from the music scene. More to come.

2 comments:

Dr. Nick said...

Hi Dave...just stumbled across this! I was Googling the pianist Howard Smith having heard him take a great solo on Fan It with Isham Jones and it led me to your January 2014 post...I'm listening to more than 500 IJ tracks on Spotify (not all at once) but unfortunately there aren't any of the Juniors tracks there. Also listening to Smith with TD's Clambake Seven. Wasn't aware of him before. I play piano with the New New Orleans Jazz Band and am currently taking lessons from Moshe Feldman.

(You won't know my name but may recognize my face from Harold and Vern's Wednesday nights at Lincoln Library and some of the concerts at Bemis Hall. Also the now sadly defunct Acton Jazz Café. I'll say hello next time I see you.)

nick ribush

Jeff said...

My Latin teacher in Jersey City in 1961-1964 was James J. McKenna. He told me he was in Ozzie Nelson's band. Can you see if his name appears in any of the documents from that time, and perhaps even if he plays with Nelson in any recording? Thanks, Jeff