Lola Dee, a popular singer in the 1950s who toured with Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante and Johnnie Ray, has died. She was 95.
The pop singer, who was signed to Columbia and Mercury labels in the ’50s, died of natural causes in Hinsdale, Illinois at a nursing facility, as announced by her publicist and CD producer Alan Eichler.
Dee, originally billed as Lola Ameche, inked a five-year contract with Chicago’s Mercury Records and collaborated with the Al Trace Orchestra to record the 1951 hit “Pretty Eyed Baby,” charting at No. 21 on Billboard. They collaborated again to create the popular song “Hitsity Hotsity.” She went on to record more than 20 songs in the next three years, releasing swinging covers of “Dance Me Loose,” “Old Man Mose,” “Down Yonder,” “Take Two to Tango” and “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.”
With the advent of rock and roll, Mercury reinvented the singer, changing her name to Lola Dee and going blonde. Songs she recorded in this era include “Padre” and “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus.” Under Mercury’s subsidiary label Wing Records, her cover of the Platters’ “Only You (And You Alone)” sold close to one million copies.
Turning her attention to live performances, Dee toured with the likes of Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante and Johnnie Ray, making stops at clubs and theaters in Canada, Mexico, Cuba, the Caribbean, South America, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and the Philippines.
Dee was a featured singer on WGN in Chicago and continued performing in various capacities. She stepped back from her musical career, however, to take care of her mother when she developed Alzheimer’s. Her final public appearances were performances of the national anthem for the Chicago Bears and Chicago White Sox in 1978.
Dee was born Lorraine DeAngelis in Chicago in 1928. She got her start in the business early, performing in local amateur shows as a child and appearing on ABC’s “Teen Town,” later renamed “Junior Junction.” Fellow cast members included Dick York and Mary Hartline. She also appeared on “National Barn Dance” which inspired ABC to cast her as a staff vocalist, singing five days a week on a 15-minute segment alongside guitarist George Barnes.
Dee is survived by her son Barry, whom she had with her husband Ralph Valentino.
Post source: variety