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Helen Forrest Collection

After a difficult childhood, Helen Forrest beat the odds and was discovered by bandleader Artie Shaw to song with and eventually replace Billie Holiday. She later worked with Benny Goodman and Harry James Orchestra.

26 old time radio show recordings
available in the following formats:

1 MP3 CD
or
10 Audio CDs


Choose your CD format
or order disks individually: Add to Cart
Play a sample episode from May 13, 1944:

"Command Performance: Jerry Colonna, Dinah Shore, Helen Forrest"



... or click here to save the Mp3 file to your computer

About this Old Time Radio Show

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2016 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Dorothy Lamour Helen Forrest and Janet Blair
The studio floors of Old Time Radio are littered with stories of starlets, stories that go “she had an unhappy childhood, but look how far she went!” Rarely do we find a childhood hardship as heartrending as Helen Forrest's.

Helen was born Helen Fogel in Atlantic City, 1917. By all accounts, the Fogel home was a happy one, the parents ran a small grocery store, and Helen had three older brothers. When the girl was an infant, the family lost their father to influenza. Her mother unreasonably blamed Helen for the death of her husband - she had wished so strongly for a little girl that God must have taken her husband in exchange.

Helen ForrestTwo of Helen's brothers were old enough to move out on their own when the family relocated to Brooklyn when Helen was barely a teenager. Her mother took up with a house painter, a man Helen despised and did not trust. Many times, Helen was told to "take her time" returning home after school. As she matured, she realized that the house was being used as a brothel. As Helen matured physically, her step father took an unhealthy interest in her and attempted to force himself upon her. At fourteen, she was forced to defend herself with a kitchen knife. Soon thereafter she went to live in the home of her piano teacher.

While studying piano, her teacher noticed that Helen had a talent for singing, and encouraged her to pursue it. Helen's older brother Ed had a dance band and helped her to get engagements. She landed a job on WNEW, where one of the saxophone players commented that Fogel sounded “too Jewish”, so she took the stage name Forrest. Ed helped her get a job singing at the Madrillon Club in Washington D.C., where she further built her reputation.

Band leader Artie Shaw saw Helen's performance at the Madrillon and invited her to audition because his singer, Billie Holiday, indicated she was ready to leave. For a time, Holiday and Forrest were both working with the Shaw Orchestra, and it came to Helen's attention that African American performers were not allowed on stage when they were not performing. In support, Helen chose to remain in the wings until the time for her number.

Helen ForrestHelen recorded 38 singles with the Shaw band, and gained national attention, but returned to Baltimore when Artie dissolved the band in 1938. Not for long, however. Benny Goodman invited her to join his band, but it was not a happy fit for Helen. Although she recognized Goodman as a musical genius, she did not get along personally with the bandleader. Benny treated his singers as though they were simply another instrument in the band, and Helen complained that he was “noodling” on the clarinet while she sang. In order to “avoid a nervous breakdown”, Helen quit Goodman's band in 1941.

She approached Harry James, offering to work for him with the single condition that she be allowed to sing. James was looking for a more jazz oriented singer, but gave Helen an audition and the band voted her in. James began arranging around his horn, and Helen's voice, often slowing the tempo so that a song only had two choruses, and Helen often became the star of the record. In 1943 and 1944, Helen Forrest was voted the best vocalist in the United States by a poll in Down Beat magazine.

After leaving the Harry James Orchestra in late 1944, Helen signed a solo contract with Decca Records. She also appeared on the radio with her Decca co star, Dick Haymes.

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2016 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

These classic recordings are available in the following formats:
  • MP3 CDs are delivered by mail. These archival quality MP3 CDs are playable in your computer and many MP3 player devices.



    26 recordings on 1 MP3 CD for just $5.00
    total playtime 9 hours, 34 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      26 shows - total playtime 9 hours 34 minutes
      1. Artie Shaw 381125 Blue Room Sobbin Blues.mp3
      2. Artie Shaw 470819 Summer Terrace Rose Room.mp3
      3. Artie Shaw, Orch 380118 Blue Rm, Hotel Lincoln, Nyc.mp3
      4. Benny Goodman Nbc Remote 410810 Chicago Panther Room.mp3
      5. Cmd Perf 430106 046 Robert Taylor, King Sisters.mp3
      6. Cmd Perf 440513 119 Jerry Colonna Dinah Shore Helen Forrest.mp3
      7. Cmd Perf 440819 134 Judy Garland, Danny Kaye, Helen Forrest.mp3
      8. Cmd Perf 450301 164 Helen Forrest, Jack Carson, Roy Rogers.mp3
      9. Dick Haymes 440427 Helen Forrest Long Ago And Far Away.mp3
      10. 479 Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes, Patty Andrews.mp3
      11. 57 Helen Forrest, Harry James.mp3
      12. 580 Dick Haymes, Helen Forrest.mp3
      13. 613 Marie Greene, Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes.mp3
      14. 645 F.Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Helen Forrest, D. Haymes.mp3
      15. 797 Bing Crosby, Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes.mp3
      16. GI Journal Basil Rathbone Helen Forrest Jack Carson.mp3
      17. Helen Forrest With Harry James Orchestra That Soldier.mp3
      18. Lux Radio Theater 430118 379 My Gal Sal.mp3
      19. Personal Album 0631 I Cried for You Helen Forrest.mp3
      20. Personal Album 0732 Exactly Like You Helen Forrest.mp3
      21. Radio Hall Of Fame 431226 004 New Years Message.mp3
      22. Radio Hall Of Fame 441231 057 Showboat.mp3
      23. Showtime W Helen Forrest 1st This Cant Be Love.mp3
      24. Treasury Star Parade 070 Harry James.mp3
      25. Treasury Star Parade 074 Harry James.mp3
      26. Treasury Star Parade 076 Harry James.mp3
  • MP3 downloads are available instantly after purchase!



    26 recordings on 1 MP3 Collection Download for just $5.00
    total playtime 9 hours, 34 min
    Add MP3 Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      26 shows - total playtime 9 hours 34 minutes
      1. Artie Shaw 381125 Blue Room Sobbin Blues.mp3
      2. Artie Shaw 470819 Summer Terrace Rose Room.mp3
      3. Artie Shaw, Orch 380118 Blue Rm, Hotel Lincoln, Nyc.mp3
      4. Benny Goodman Nbc Remote 410810 Chicago Panther Room.mp3
      5. Cmd Perf 430106 046 Robert Taylor, King Sisters.mp3
      6. Cmd Perf 440513 119 Jerry Colonna Dinah Shore Helen Forrest.mp3
      7. Cmd Perf 440819 134 Judy Garland, Danny Kaye, Helen Forrest.mp3
      8. Cmd Perf 450301 164 Helen Forrest, Jack Carson, Roy Rogers.mp3
      9. Dick Haymes 440427 Helen Forrest Long Ago And Far Away.mp3
      10. 479 Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes, Patty Andrews.mp3
      11. 57 Helen Forrest, Harry James.mp3
      12. 580 Dick Haymes, Helen Forrest.mp3
      13. 613 Marie Greene, Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes.mp3
      14. 645 F.Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Helen Forrest, D. Haymes.mp3
      15. 797 Bing Crosby, Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes.mp3
      16. GI Journal Basil Rathbone Helen Forrest Jack Carson.mp3
      17. Helen Forrest With Harry James Orchestra That Soldier.mp3
      18. Lux Radio Theater 430118 379 My Gal Sal.mp3
      19. Personal Album 0631 I Cried for You Helen Forrest.mp3
      20. Personal Album 0732 Exactly Like You Helen Forrest.mp3
      21. Radio Hall Of Fame 431226 004 New Years Message.mp3
      22. Radio Hall Of Fame 441231 057 Showboat.mp3
      23. Showtime W Helen Forrest 1st This Cant Be Love.mp3
      24. Treasury Star Parade 070 Harry James.mp3
      25. Treasury Star Parade 074 Harry James.mp3
      26. Treasury Star Parade 076 Harry James.mp3
  • Standard Audio CDs are delivered by mail on archival quality media with up to 60 minutes on each CD and play in all CD players



    26 recordings on 10 Audio CDs
    total playtime 9 hours, 34 min

    Disc A001

    1. 479 Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes, Patty Andrews
    2. 57 Helen Forrest, Harry James
    3. 580 Dick Haymes, Helen Forrest
    4. 613 Marie Greene, Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes
    5. 645 F.Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Helen Forrest, D. Haymes
    6. 797 Bing Crosby, Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Disc A002

    1. GI Journal Basil Rathbone Helen Forrest Jack Carson
    2. Helen Forrest With Harry James Orchestra That Soldier
    3. Personal Album 0631 I Cried for You Helen Forrest
    4. Personal Album 0732 Exactly Like You Helen Forrest

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Disc A003

    1. Showtime W Helen Forrest 1st This Cant Be Love
    2. Treasury Star Parade 070 Harry James
    3. Treasury Star Parade 074 Harry James
    4. Treasury Star Parade 076 Harry James

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Disc A004

    1. Artie Shaw, Orch 380118 Blue Rm, Hotel Lincoln, Nyc
    2. Artie Shaw 381125 Blue Room Sobbin Blues

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Disc A005

    1. Benny Goodman Nbc Remote 410810 Chicago Panther Room
    2. Cmd Perf 430106 046 Robert Taylor, King Sisters

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Disc A006

    1. Lux Radio Theater 430118 379 My Gal Sal

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Disc A007

    1. Radio Hall Of Fame 431226 004 New Years Message
    2. Dick Haymes 440427 Helen Forrest Long Ago And Far Away

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Disc A008

    1. Cmd Perf 440513 119 Jerry Colonna Dinah Shore Helen Forrest
    2. Cmd Perf 440819 134 Judy Garland, Danny Kaye, Helen Forrest

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Disc A009

    1. Radio Hall Of Fame 441231 057 Showboat

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Disc A010

    1. Cmd Perf 450301 164 Helen Forrest, Jack Carson, Roy Rogers
    2. Artie Shaw 470819 Summer Terrace Rose Room

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00