This song has a special meaning for me because it is the only recording I have, or I think which exists, of my birth mother Patty Small Keeler’s voice. She recorded this song with her mother Mary probably in the 1960’s and it was released on Coral Records.
David S. Siegel has done a tremendous job here in capturing the voices of a number of individuals who made such significant contributions to not just radio but our culture. He elicits more than just facts in these interviews, he allows these actors, singers and writers to really open up in ways they hadn’t before. My research into Mary Small benefited greatly from his interview with her and opened up new lines of investigation I would have otherwise not had. I am thrilled that this book is available to offer a glimpse into not just a different era, but in so many ways a different outlook on life and the entertainment business.
In memory of Julie Wilson, Mary Small’s friend and contemporary, who died today at age 90 in Manhattan, here is Mary discussing visiting Julie in London. This interview is cut from a series of interviews done by David Siegel. Rest in peace Julie, the world has lost another legend.
After winning a singing contest on a radio show hosted by Mickey Rooney, she was offered an engagement at the Mocambo in Los Angeles. While there she met Cole Porter, who offered her the role of Bianca in the London production of “Kiss Me, Kate.” She remained in England through the early 1950s, appearing there in musicals including “Bet Your Life” and “South Pacific.”
-From her NY Times Obit today
I had the opportunity to sit down with Larry Gassman and Walden Hughes, two SPERDVAC boardmembers, a couple weeks ago to discuss my documentary, The Little Girl With The Big Voice. on their YesterdayUsa.com program, Same Time Same Station.
Larry and Walden were instrumental in pointing me in the right direction when I started doing my research on Mary Small and her contribution to radio and I owe them a great debt of gratitude.
This is an extremely rare recording of the Little Miss Bab-O program in 1934… From the New York Times that year… “UNDOUBTEDLY the most successful child star in radio today is Mary Small, the singing star on Little Miss Bab-O. Mary is thirteen years old. Her father is in the shirt business in Baltimore where Mary began her radio work…. Today she earns over $400 a week…. That gives you the bright side of the radio picture for children…
QUITE RARE! MARY SMALL PERFORMS VESTI LA GIUBBA FROM PAGLIACCI IN 1935
The 1904 recording by Enrico Caruso was the first million-selling record in history. And from Wiki…
The aria is often regarded as one of the most moving in the operatic repertoire of the time. The pain of Canio is portrayed in the aria and exemplifies the entire notion of the “tragic clown”: smiling on the outside but crying on the inside. This is still displayed today, as the clown motif often features the painted-on tear running down the cheek of the performer.
Here is the metaphoric performance as covered by the Pittsburgh Press…
This is a duet Mary Small did with her daughter Patty in 1957. It is the only recording I have of her voice and I’m thrilled to have found it! Patty was also a songwriter and may have been the original voice on “Don’t Cross The Street,” a public service announcement from the 1970’s.
This extremely rare recording is of Mary Small performing her original song, “Thank You, Mr. President,” with the Glenn Miller Orchestra in honor of Franklin Roosevelt’s Birthday on January 30, 1942. The annual event was part of a March Of Dimes fundraising drive. Special thanks to J. David Goldin for preserving and providing us with this unique piece of American History.
From Behind The Mike hosted by Graham McNamee September 29, 1940 on NBC / Blue. The story of how eleven year old Mary Small “The Little Girl With The Big Voice” was discovered and her first appearance on the Rudy Vallee show in 1933. She sings “Louisville Lady.”
In this clip Mary does some back and forth with Jimmy Stewart, pretending she’s a star-struck fan. This was one of many stars Jimmy Stewart worked with in his life but I’d love to know if he ever had any reflections on her… it wouldn’t surprise me, Mary rubbed off the right way on almost everybody back then. Here’s a great blog dedicated to Jimmy Stewart.