(1914 - 2005)
Langford, born Frances Newbern Langford on April 4, 1914
in Lakeland, Florida, started out just like every other
famous singer of the time, being a Vaudevillian. As a
child, Langford had a knack for the stage, mainly geared
towards Operatic singing. Langford's proficiency as an
operatic soprano would have earned her a successful career
in that field, but a throat operation in her teenage years
shattered her aspirations of ever being under the limelight
of Broadway Opera.
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Frances recovery from her surgery found her in the beginning
again, trying to work with a new voice. Given that most
singers adapt to the change in their voices at a young
age, Frances worked tirelessly to find her perfect tone,
just like Frank Sinatra did when he was told that his
natural singing voice was just too plain! After many personal
singing lessons, and years of building a reputation as
a sexy, but easy-going lounge singer at a quasi-famous
nightclub in Florida, Frances was ready for Hollywood,
or rather, was Hollywood ready for Frances!
While singing at a local Tampa Bay radio station in 1931, Rudy Vallee discovered young Langford and offered her
a guest spot on his radio program. After she established
a small following while frequenting the Rudy Vallee
radio program, Frances began to win more acclaim in
the Vaudeville scene. Her star was continually increasing
in both worlds! After a couple years, her reputations
in Vaudeville and on the radio collided, and, like a beautiful
Phoenix, from that beautiful mesh of both worlds, Frances
became a hot commodity.
Langford, unknown service woman, and Bob Hope
Frances is known for her role in the Alice
Faye movie Every Night at Eight, which consisted of
her most famous hit to date, "I'm in the Mood for
Love." With loads of scripts being tossed in her
direction, and with the influx of demand for more records,
Frances was pretty busy as it is, but she did not mind.
In 1940 she got a part in the film version of the George
Abbott Broadway musical "Too Many Girls", starring
Lucille Ball, Eddie Barcken, Richard Carlson and Ann Miller.
If this was not enough, she replaced Judy Garland in Bob
Hope's old time radio show. Fact actually has it that if it
were not for Frances Langford being on the show and being
a strong influence on Bob, he would not have done his
famous USO tours. Sources claim that a couple of high-ranking
government officials asked Bob Hope directly if he could
do a show for the service men in their training camps,
due mostly to his immense popularity with the soldiers.
Bob was not too keen on the idea, but he replied that
he would do it if the rest of his cast did not have any
objections to the notion. He insisted this to the officials
because, in the back of his mind, he believed that the
only one who would object to this was little innocent,
easy-going Frances. To his immense disbelief, Frances
thought very highly of the idea! After their first show,
Bob was convinced that foregoing his personal objections
for the sake of his fellow compatriot soldiers was the
American way. Frances continued on the Bob
Hope show until the war was finished, where she jumped
on board of Spike Jones' Chase
& Sandborn Show.