Goodbye to another glorious gal

Dolores and Bob HopeThe lovely and talented Dolores Reade Hope, longtime wife to comedian Bob Hope and a talented singer in her own right, died yesterday at the tender age of 102. We thought we’d pay our respects by rerunning the following post, which first appeared here at Cladrite Radio on March 19, 2010.

Rest well, Dolores.

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Yesterday, we shared with you one of the spring-themed songs we’re playing these days on Cladrite Radio, and we’ve decided to follow that up today with one of the recordings of Irving Berlin‘s “Easter Parade” that we’ll be sprinkling throughout our broadcasts for the next two weeks or so.

Our library boasts several renditions of the song, fine performances by the likes of the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, Bing Crosby, Djano Reinhardt, Gene Austin, and Leo Reisman and His Orchestra (with none other than Clifton Webb on vocals).

But our favorite is a 1933 recording by violinest Joe Venuti and his orchestra. And while Venuti and his cohorts acquit themselves admirably, it’s the vocalist who most made our ears perk up.

We did a little digging to ascertain which nightingale it was who delivered the lovely, languid vocals on this recording, and as it turned out, it was Dolores Reade. If that name rings a bell, it’s likely because Ms. Reade gave it up (along with, for the most part, her singing career) to marry comedian Bob Hope.

A native New Yorker, Reade was born Dolores DeFina in the Bronx (or Harlem—there’s conflicting info out there), and in the 1930s, she changed her name and began singing on the NYC nightclub circuit. One night in 1933, Hope accompanied a pal to the Vogue Club, promised only that he would get to “hear a pretty girl sing.”

Hope made it a nightly practice to be at the Vogue Club when Dolores performed, and his devotion soon paid off, as the two were married a few months later. She then joined his vaudeville act, but eventually gave up performing (except when she toured with Hope to entertain the troops) to be a mother and homemaker.

Encouraged by Rosemary Clooney and others, Dolores would eventually record four or five CDs in the 1990s, sounding much younger than a woman in her eighties, but it’s painful to think of the remarkable work she might have done had she been recording all along, from the 1930s forward.

Joe Venuti and His Orchestra, feat. Dolores Reade — “Easter Parade”

Past Paper: Let us off uptown

Hi-res view

If we had a dollar for every song of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s that included a mention of Harlem (the word “uptown” qualifies, in this case) in the lyrics or title (or both), drinks for the entire Cladrite Clan and, what the heck, their friends’ friends, too, would be on us. If aliens from another planet ever came across a stack of 78s from that era, they’ll no doubt kick themselves for not getting here sooner, for all those songs, from “Doin’ the Uptown Lowdown” to “Putting on the Ritz,” make it sound as if Harlem was the very center of the swinging universe in those days. They’d know they’d missed out on some good times.

And this 1932 Night Clubs Map of Harlem, which we came across recently at, just serves to confirms it. The map has made appearances in a number of places around the web, but that’s okay; it’s well worth sharing again. Believe you us, you’ll want to click through to the hi-res version of this one. It’s a lot of fun to peruse closely.