Iconic 1950s American pop singer Lola Dee dead at age 95

December 10, 2023
by
Ben Marquis

A mid-century American pop music icon and singing sensation, Lola Dee, passed away on Thursday at the age of 95, according to the Daily Caller.

The news of the popular 1950s singer who was known for her voice and stage presence was first shared by her publicist and producer.

She is said to have passed from natural causes while residing in a nursing home facility in Hinsdale, Illinois, a suburb on the west side of her hometown of Chicago.

Childhood performer gained national stardom by 1950s

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lola Dee was born in Chicago in 1928 as Lorraine DeAngelis and began performing in local amateur talent contests at the age of nine.

She first gained national attention for her singing on an ABC radio show known as "Teen Town" and then later was signed by ABC as a staff vocalist after performing for a while on a Chicago-based radio show known as "National Barn Dance."

That led to her being signed to a multi-year deal with Chicago-based Mercury Records in 1950, where she was paired with the Al Trace Orchestra and proceeded to produce several hit tunes and formally cement her status as a national pop music icon for the era.

Numerous big hits and a revamped image

According to Variety, as part of her five-year deal with Mercury, the singer adopted the stage name of Lola Ameche and, in collaboration with the Al Trace Orchestra, recorded and released the 1951 Billboard chart hit song "Pretty Eyed Baby," followed by another hit song titled "Hitsity Hotsity."

Over the next few years, the singer and the orchestra would go on to record and release at least 20 other popular tunes in the swing music genre.

As the rock and roll genre began to become a thing, however, Mercury decided to make some changes and repackaged the singer with a new name, Lola Dee, and newly dyed blonde hair, and shifted her over to a subsidiary label known as Wing Records.

It was under Wing Records that Dee recorded and released a cover of a tune by the Platters -- "Only You (And You Alone)" -- that would ultimately sell more than a million copies.

Worldwide live performer

The Hollywood Reporter noted that the singer, under both stage names of Lola Ameche and Lola Dee, also toured widely during her heyday in the 1950s, often in conjunction with a band fronted by Ralph Marterie, who would later become her manager.

Per Variety, she would perform live alongside popular figures like Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, and Johnnie Ray in clubs and theaters across North America, Central America, and South America, as well as across the Pacific Ocean in places like Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore.

The singer eventually returned home to Chicago and worked for a time on WGN up until the late 1970s, when she stepped away from her musical career to care for her ailing mother who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease, with her final live performances coming in 1978 in the form of the National Anthem ahead of home games played by the Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dee had a secondary post-music career as an executive hotel concierge and is solely survived by a son named Barry.

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