Lucille Norman

Active - 1942 - 1953  |   Born - Jun 15, 1926   |   Died - Apr 1, 1998   |   Genres - Musical

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Biography by Bruce Eder

Lucille Norman was a singer/actress whose film career began almost more by accident than design. She was born Lucille Pharaby Boileau in Omaha, NE, in 1921, into a performing family; both of her parents were singers on the Chatauqua stage. Her father, who later became a minister, was also her first singing teacher, and she first sang in public at his lectures. Because of her parents' constant travels -- which brought her from Omaha to Kansas City, MO, and then Lincoln, NE -- she was raised in large part by her grandparents into her teen years. After completing grade school, she joined her parents in Colorado. She had appeared in operettas in school and got a singing spot on local radio, which led to an engagement for one summer with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. She earned a scholarship to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and after two years there felt ready to try New York.

Norman sang in a radio audition for the Metropolitan Opera, and while she didn't get an overture from that organization, she did receive the offer of a movie contract, which she turned down. By the time she was back in Cincinnati, however, she had changed her mind and returned to New York to do a screen test for MGM, which was successful. Suddenly, it was off to Hollywood and a small role, acting and singing, in the Judy Garland/Gene Kelly vehicle (which was also Kelly's screen debut) For Me and My Gal. Norman was good enough in the film that she almost certainly could have gotten more film work, but fate intervened in the form of Fred Finklehoffe, who had co-written the screenplay and was casting a show he was producing. He saw Norman and immediately offered her a role in the piece, called Show Time, a vaudeville-style entertainment that was touring the country. Norman succeeded Kitty Carlisle when it got to New York, and found herself doing songs and sketch comedy with Jack Haley and George Jessel. Following the run of the show, she returned to radio work and also later married actor Bruce Kellogg.

By the second half of the 1940s, Norman was back in California, singing at the Hollywood Bowl and once more doing movie work, starting with Painting the Clouds With Sunshine. Her recording career began in the late '40s and early '50s, and by the early '50s she was working along with no less a figure than Gordon MacRae, cutting a studio cast recording of Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach musical Roberta for Capitol Records. Norman also did a Colgate Comedy Hour installment in the same work with MacRae. Alas, the particular brand of music in which Norman specialized was already declining by the mid-'50s, and her screen roles -- culminating with her work as the female lead opposite Randolph Scott in Carson City (1952) -- had also disappeared after the mid-'50s. By the end of the decade, she was retired from professional entertainment. Norman passed away in 1998, and is best remembered today for her work in For Me and My Gal and her recordings with MacRae.

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