Frances Langford will forever be remembered for her dedication to the war effort during the 1940s. As a regular member of Bob Hope's USO tour she became a favorite of American troops around the world. Though Langford spent most of her Hollywood career appearing in minor films she introduced several major hits, including ''I'm in the Mood for Love'' and ''Hooray for Hollywood.'' Her career on radio and television kept her busy through the early 1960s.
Born and raised in Florida, Langford made her professional debut on local Tampa radio in 1930, where she was discovered by singer Rudy Vallee. Vallee offered her a spot on his network radio program and took her to New Orleans. There she made her first national broadcast, earning a contract with station WOR in New York. She later signed with NBC.
In 1932 Langford made her first appearance on the silver screen in the musical short The Subway Symphony. Her film career didn't begin in earnest, however, until 1935 when she co-starred in the motion picture, Every Night at Eight, singing ''I'm in the Mood for Love.'' The song remained associated with her throughout her career. Langford made more than 30 pictures over the next 20 years.
Langford appeared often on the radio during the late 1930s, both on her own program and as a regular on Dick Powell's show. In the early 1940s she worked on Bob Hope's program. Langford began her long association with Hope's USO tour in May 1941 when she performed in his first show from a military base, at California's March Field. The program was a huge success, and she remained a regular member of Hope's troupe.
During her travels with Hope, Langford often experienced the hazards of war first hand, taking shelter during bombing raids and dodging aerial attacks. She also survived the crash of the show's airplane in Australia. Langford once caused an uproar when she violated military rules by hitching a ride in a P38 fighter plane. The matter was made worse when the plane went into action during its flight.
In the late 1940s Langford starred with Don Ameche in the radio comedy The Bickersons, which transferred to television for the 1951-52 season as the Frances Langford-Don Ameche Show. The pair also hosted the Star Time television program in 1950 and 1951. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Langford appeared as a regular guest on the Spike Jones radio program. In 1954 she made her last Hollywood appearance in The Glenn Miller Story.
In 1959 and 1960 Langford hosted her own television variety program. She continued to tour with Hope through both the Korean and Vietnam wars. She was always well-received by servicemen, even those soldiers in the late 1960s who were too young to remember her at the height of her career.
Langford eventually settled down in Jensen Beach, Florida, with her second husband, outboard motor magnate Ralph Evinrude. There she opened a restaurant and resort. She continued to perform at the establishment up through the 1990s. After Evinrude passed away in 1986 she married former Truman-era Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Harold Stuart. Langford was well-known for her charity and community work during her later years. Frances Langford passed away from congestive heart failure in 2005.
Special thanks to Bob Gaines for his generous help in providing source material.