Ina Ray Hutton

Born

  • March 13, 1916
  • Chicago, IL

Died

  • February 19, 1984
  • Ventura, CA

Real Name

  • Odessa Cowan

Marriages / Children

  • Lou Parris (1944-?)
  • Randy Brooks (1949-57)
  • Jack Curtis (?-1981)

Ina Ray Hutton

The half-sister of Pied Piper June Hutton, Ina Ray Hutton was the only prominent female leader during the big band era. She gained notoriety during the 1940s for both her music and her seductive stage persona, earning her the nickname ''Blonde Bombshell of Rhythm.''

Ina Ray began singing and dancing at the age of eight. During the early 1930s she appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies and the George White Scandals and in 1934 was asked to front an all-girl orchestra, the Melodears, with which she appeared in several Paramount musical shorts. The group achieved some popularity, mainly as a novelty act. It disbanded in 1939.

In 1940 Ina Ray formed an all-male orchestra. Though her new outfit was quite talented it was her seductive swaying and dancing on stage that helped gain the group a following. Sax player and arranger George Paxton, to whom Ina Ray had reportedly offered fifty percent of her profits to join the band, played a large part in the orchestra's success, becoming musical director and de facto leader until he left to form his own group in 1944. Standout musicians included guitarist Jack Purcell and pianist Hal Schaefer. Vocalists were Stuart Foster and a trio called the Kim Loo Sisters

In 1944 Ina Ray starred in the Columbia production Ever Since Venus, her only major film role. She disbanded her orchestra in December of 1946 but later formed a new all-girl orchestra which appeared on a regional television program from 1951 to 1956, with a brief network run in 1956. She retired from music in 1968 and died in 1984 of complications from diabetes.