her career Jill acted as spokesperson for a number well- known products
in both print and other advertising media. Click
here or on her image at left to see Jill in one such ad that appeared
in the June 1954 issue of Motion Picture and Television Magazine.
Needlework & Crafts, Spring - Summer 1958 issue featured
Jill in a full-page advertisement for the American Thread Company.
Click here or on Jill's image at left to discover
just what a Jill Corey Cuddlie is.
appeared on the Steve Allen Sunday evening variety show four times.
After one of her performances Steve walked over to the young singer to
compliment her, but as he approached he was distracted by the fragrance
Jill was wearing. He asked her what perfume she used, and Jill replied,
"Arpege by Lanvin, my favorite." Several weeks later Jill received
a letter from Lanvin thanking her. Her impromptu endorsement of their
product had resulted in a million dollar increase in sales.
sister Alice, ten years her senior, was very influential in Jill's early
life. In fact, it was Alice, a fan of thirties movie star Norma Shearer,
who picked the name for the newest addition to the Speranza family in 1935.
After the death of their mother in 1939, Alice served for a time as the
young Norma Jean's surrogate mother. Even in the late Fifties, when
Jill's career was soaring, it was Alice who suggested that Jill record
My Reverie, perhaps the most beautiful of Jill's Columbia
the Academy Awards ceremonies every year it is customary for each winner,
as well as each presenter, to receive a complimentary bag full of gifts
contributed by the various movie studios. In that assortment of gifts
presented to all those participating in the 2004 gala in Hollywood was
a copy of Jill's Sometimes I'm Happy, Sometimes I'm Blue,
which was remastered and issued on CD by Collectable Records late in 2003.
Columbia Records had released the original LP version in 1958.
became a nationally known television personality just two days after her
eighteenth birthday, when she debuted as lead singer on the Dave
Garroway Show on October 2, 1953. Yet it was not until 1957
that Jill actually purchased a television set of her own!
1953, Dimitri Tiomkin, famed composer of film scores, wrote a modern-day
Christmas carol called the First Christmas for Woman's
Home Companion, a leading homemaker's magazine of the day.
As a special promotion for the December 1953 Christmas issue of the magazine,
the publishers announced the pairing of "a brand-new song with a
brand-new star and a special treat for your Christmas." That brand-new
star, of course, was our Jill, and you can read the entire story of just
how the magazine offered a limited-edition recording of the song by Jill
to its readers for a mere fifty cents. Click
here or on the image at left.
concedes that the agency which represented her served her very well in
the publicity department. Photographers
always seemed to be waiting at the airport when she returned from an out-of-town
engagement, and she was featured in literally dozens of contemporary magazines.
Early in January 1954, just three months after Jill's eighteenth birthday
and her debut on national television on the Dave Garroway Show,
TV Guide featured Jill in one of a series of articles the
magazine was running on television's make-up secrets.
Click here or on the image at left to read
York City's leading all-music radio station during the 1950's was WNEW,
owned at the time by the New York Daily News. The station
would run various promotional contests from time to time, including this
one in conjunction with Good Humor Ice Cream company.
As part of the contest cards were distributed featuring the images of popular
singers on one side and various members of the WNEW disc jockey staff on
the other. Click here or on the image
at left to view a typical set of cards.
was very popular from the time she first came to New York in 1953, and
throughout the years she dated many well-known personalities, including
Richard Hayes, Eddie Fisher, Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme. For a time
she had a serious relationship with Jack Haley, Jr., as reported in the
Hollywood's Younger Set column of Movie World
in January 1959. Click here
or on the image at left for more.
1953, network television was still in its infancy. Even then, however,
it had its superstars, and one was a grinning, freckled-faced marionette
called Howdy Doody, who presided daily over a cast of characters and an
audience of moppets in the mythical domain
of Doodyville. When Mitch Miller brought the young
Norma Jean Speranza to New York for an audition for Columbia Records, he
also arranged for her to audition for a role on the new Dave Garroway
Show, which was to debut that October. For that audition
Jill went to the NBC studios at Rockefeller Plaza and there to Doodyville,
the set for the Howdy Doody Show, which happened to be free
at the time. Click on Howdy's image for a little more of the story.
the election year of 1960, Jill had graced American TV screens for seven
years, and as a consequence her face was well known even to a future president.
One day while crossing Manhattan in a taxi, Jill noticed that a limousine
had pulled along side her cab at a red light and further, that another
familiar face was peering at her from the back seat of that vehicle.
It was JFK, and he quickly turned his head when he realized that Jill had
caught his stolen glance. Of course, Jill's interest was also piqued,
and the two continued to steal brief glances at one another at every stop
light as they crossed Manhattan - at least until the little game had become
so obvious to both that they exchanged acknowledging smiles. About
two weeks later Jill, who was then dating Oleg Cassini, couturier to Jacqueline
Kennedy, found herself at a gala where the Kennedys were the guests of
honor. JFK, who had arrived a bit ahead of his wife, took the opportunity
to ask Jill to dance. At first Jill was obviously very nervous, and
when Mr. Kennedy asked her why, Jill replied, "Because I know that I'm
dancing with the next president of the United States." While the
two continued on the dance floor, they then giggled about the little game
of peek-a-boo the two had engaged in just a few days earlier.
May 19, 1991, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City Jill Corey was presented
an award by the Puccini Foundation. Jill was cited by legendary Italian
diva Lisia Albenese for her " . . . voice and stage presence."
Jill was also chosen to sing the national anthem at the event. She was
in very good company. The great Italian tenor Franco Corelli was
guest of honor that evening, and opera stars Robert Merrill and April Millo
were also in attendance. Click here
or on the image at left for much more on the event.
Tune International, which bills itself as the only monthly magazine
in the world for lovers of the golden age of popular music, featured Jill
on its cover for February 2004. Inside there was a comprehensive
interview with Jill conducted by the magazine's editor Gerry Stonestreet.
On our Reflections
page you can read excerpts from the article, as well as the glowing reviews
magazine contributors Allen Pollock and Dan Singer give Jill for her incomparable
interpretations of soulful ballads and torch songs on her classic album
Sometimes I'm Happy, Sometimes I'm Blue.
the Koch administration of the 1980's, Jill gave a New Yorker's version
of a command performance for Mayor Ed Koch, assembled dignitaries
and guests at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of New
York City. As Jill recalls, the mayor gave every indication that
he was thoroughly pleased with her program that evening.
Jill starred in Columbia Pictures Senior Prom in 1958, her
naturally brown hair was dyed red by the studio makeup department in an
effort to have her appear less ethnic on the screen. We wonder
if the folks in makeup knew that the movie was being filmed in black and
white. Click on the image at left to go to a full page of photos
and more interesting sidelights on Jill's starring role in Senior
debuted on NBC's Your Hit Parade on Saturday, September 7,
1957, replacing Gizelle McKenzie as a lead singer. In the entertainment
section of the Sunday New York Times that week there was
a full column story about Jill by Richard F. Shepard, along with a photo
of Jill at rehearsal on the Hit Parade set. The photo
could not be reproduced effectively, but clicking
here or on Jill's image will take you to the text of the article.
Corey starred in the 1960 production of Meet Me in St. Louis
at the New Music Fair in Toronto. Robert Smith, a teenage apprentice
working behind the scenes, was lucky enough to snag the part of Pee Wee,
a minor character in the musical. In that role he got the opportunity
to dance with Jill, and he has treasured not only that memory all these
years, but also the program from the production and autographed pictures
of Jill and co-star Roddy McDowall. We thank Mr. Smith for contributing
both pieces of memorabilia, which you can view by clicking on the image
at the left.
Jill was interviewed on Person to Person in 1957, she confessed
to host Edward R. Murrow that she had in her words ".
. . an absolutely terrible memory." Yet when we told Jill recently
that loyal fan Betty Racine had contributed this picture of Jill with Eddie
Fisher, Jill described the dress she wore in the 1954 photo without hesitation
and in considerable detail! Click
here or on the image at left to read much more about Eddie and Jill.
to see the original black and white publicity stills taken on the set of
It's Coke Time with Eddie Fisher.
dress and hair style in this photo dating from 1954 suggest that it too
could have been taken on the set of Coke Time with Eddie Fisher.
that same 1957 Person to Person interview
host Ed Murrow remarked, "I've heard it said that you sing as if you believe
every word of the lyric." Anyone who has heard Sometimes I'm
Blue, the collection of ballads and torch songs on her original
1958 LP, can testify to the power of the 23-year-old Jill to breathe pure
emotion into a lyric while never resorting to needless theatrics.
Some forty years later in the late 90's, appearing at a venue on Staten
Island, New York, Jill and her version of the old standard It Had
to Be You left her audience in stunned silence for nearly ten seconds
before breaking into applause and giving her a standing ovation.
her biggest hit single, Love Me to Pieces, on the Westinghouse
Studio One Summer Theatre in 1957 in a play by the same name.
The song would eventually reach number eleven on the charts and sell in
excess of 750,000 copies. In the September 9, 1957 issue of The
Billboard, a trade publication, Columbia Records ran a promotional
ad for the recording. You can read the ad as it appeared by clicking
on the image.
summer early in her career Jill, as part of a touring company of
young performers, appeared at various county fairs in the northeast.
Jill did not drive, and she had the misfortune to be assigned to the back
seat of the car owned by the couple who were the handlers of Zippy the
Chimp, who was also part of the company. Zippy was supposed to be
confined to the front seat with his handlers, but from time to time he
would manage to escape to the back, where he would inevitably begin grooming
Jill's eyebrows and hair in a manner typical of the species. But
Jill recalls that she had an even more annoying problem during that tour.
Singing outside in the evening, bathe in floodlights on stage, she drew
not only the attention of the audience but also incredible numbers of insects.
Jill would wind up swallowing some during the course of a song, and once,
after swallowing at least a dozen, she actually threw up! Click
here or on Zippy for more of the story.
passing of Johnny Carson early in 2005 has resulted in renewed interest
in his long career in television. During the 1955-56 season he hosted
a half-hour comedy show for CBS. Jill was featured singer on the
program. The DVD shown at left, which can be purchased at Amazon.com
at nominal cost, contains the very first show in the series.
Jill, just one month short of her twentieth birthday, appears in a brief
comedy skit with Johnny, but she does not sing.
is currently featured in two books devoted to the entertainment industry.
In fact, Jill makes the cover of the World Who's Who of Jazz , Cabaret,
Music and Entertainment, which was published in February 2007.
Inside is another nearly full-page photo, a list of her reviews and a detailed
biography contributed by your editor. In December 2006, The
Copacabana, a history of that venerable New York City institution
by Kristin Baggelaar was released. It too includes a picture and
brief story about Jill, when she was one of the youngest performers to
headline there. Click here for