Helen O`Connell

Born

  • May 23, 1920
  • Lima, OH

Died

  • September 9, 1993
  • San Diego, CA

Marriages

  • Clifford Smith (1943-51)
  • Tom Chamales (1957-60)
  • Bob Paris (1965-65)
  • Frank DeVol (1990)

Helen O'Connell

Born and raised in northwest Ohio, singer Helen O'Connell began her professional career touring with Jimmy Richards' nine-piece orchestra before eventually landing a steady job on local radio in St. Louis. She later left her radio job to sing with Larry Funk and his Band of a Thousand Melodies. Her big break came during a stay in New York in 1939 when Jimmy Dorsey heard her sing. Having just gotten rid of Ella Mae Morse, Dorsey was in need of a female vocalist, and Helen turned out to be a perfect match.

Though O'Connell had limited vocal range she became popular with the public and went on to record several big hits with Dorsey, including ''Green Eyes'' and ''All of Me.'' Most famous are her duets with Bob Eberly, in whom she also had romantic interest. She was voted best female vocalist in a 1940 Metronome poll.

O'Connell left Dorsey's orchestra in 1943 to get married. After her marriage ended in 1951 she returned to the music world and began a successful solo career. She appeared regularly on television during the 1950s, including a stint as co-host of NBC's Today Show. She also starred in her own television program and was a featured performer on Russ Morgan's show. For a while she toured with Kay Starr, Rosemary Clooney and Rose Marie as Four Girls Four. She remained active in the music business up until her death from cancer in 1993.