Monday, May 17, 2010

Harry James

To celebrate Noir and Chick Flicks: Musical page 100th post. I thought I would Spotlight Harry James, my favorite musician and bandleader. James was an instrumentalist of the swing era. He was one of the most popular bandleaders of the first half of the 1940s, and he continued to lead his band until just before his death, 40 years later.

He was the son of a bandleader of a traveling circus. By the age of 10 he was taking trumpet lessons from his father. Every day, James was given one page to learn from the Arban's book.

In 1931 the family settled in Beaumont, Texas, where James began playing with local dance bands.

He joined Ben Pollack in 1935 but at the start of 1937, left Pollack to join Benny Goodman's orchestra, where he stayed through 1938.

His was the first "name band" to employ Frank Sinatra, in 1939. He wanted to change Sinatra's name to 'Frankie Satin' but Sinatra refused. His later band included drummer Buddy Rich.

He played trumpet in the 1950 film Young Man with a Horn, dubbing Kirk Douglas. This was the film that had me hooked on Harry James. Jame's recording of "I'm Beginning to See the Light" appears in the motion picture My Dog Skip (2000). His music is also featured in the Woody Allen film Hannah and Her Sisters. James recorded many popular records and appeared in many Hollywood movies.

He was second only to Glenn Miller as the most successful recording artist of 1942.

James was married three times. In May 1935, he married singer Louise Tobin, with whom he had two children. They divorced in 1943. That same year, he married actress Betty Grable. They had two daughters, Victoria and Jessica, before divorcing in 1965.

1940s Hollywood Pin Up girl, Betty Grable, and her husband, bandleader, Harry James performed together in "Baby Wont you Please Come Home".

James married a third time in 1968 to Las Vegas showgirl Joan Boyd, whom he would divorce in March of 1970. He had 16 grandchildren.

James owned several thoroughbred racehorses that won races such as the California Breeders' Champion Stakes (1951) and the San Vicente Stakes (1954). He was also a founding investor in the Atlantic City Race Course. His knowledge of horse racing was demonstrated during a 1958 appearance on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour entitled "Lucy Wins A Racehorse."

Bathing Beauty (1944)

Best Foot Forward (1943)
Carnegie Hall (1947)
Do You Love Me (1946)
If I'm Lucky (1946)
I'll Get By (1950)
Outlaw Queen (1957)
Private Buckaroo (1942)

Private Buckaroo(1942). Director: Edward F. Cline. Cast: The Andrews Sisters, Dick Foran, Harry James, Shemp Howard, Joe E. Lewis, and Jennifer Holt. The film is about army recruits following basic training, with the Andrew Sisters, attending USO dances. The film is a mixture of comedy and songs.
Riot in Rhythm (1957)
Springtime in the Rockies (1942)
The Benny Goodman Story (1956)
The Sting II (1983)
Two Girls and a Sailor (1944)
The Opposite Sex (1956)

Harry James with Helen Forrest peforming: "I had the craziest dream".

Harry James and Buddy Rich on drums, performing: Green Onions(1965.)


  1. That is a fitting 100th post there Dawn. Good stuff.

  2. Hey Dawn what does it say on your dashboard? 99 or 100? Because yesterday the post I wrote said 99 which would have made yours 100 today. Now it's saying only 99. Let me know what it says on your side. Either way, great celebratory post you did.

  3. Monty, Yesterday, I deleted an old draft. I wonder if the dash board counts the drafts too?

  4. yeah it does Dawn. It happened to me before on my blog. But that's cool. Your gold diggers post today is an excellent one as well.