The Great Miss Helen
Here is a great lady of song who sang with the best; Benny
Goodman, Harry James, Artie Shaw and more. And after having several
strokes and lying in a hospital bed she still took time to speak to me. It was many weeks before she was able to
speak on the phone, but finally she took her precious time to give a short interview that turned out to be her
last. Unfortunately the great Helen Forrest passed away shortly after these last few
words. We think the world of Miss Forrest. Not only for her talents,
but for also being the warmest and most wonderful person we've ever met. Enjoy these next few minutes and please excuse the muddy sound of the audio
as this interview was done without expectation and preserved as best as we
Biography for Helen
Helen Forrest (April 12, 1917 – July 11, 1999) was one of the most popular female
jazz vocalists during
America's Big Band era.
She was born Helen Fogel to a Jewish family in Atlantic City, New Jersey on April 12, 1917. She first sang
with her brother's band at the age of 10, and later began her career singing on
radio under the name Bonnie Blue.
Forrest achieved fame when
bandleader Artie Shaw hired her in 1938. Shaw was looking for new talent when
vocalist Billie Holidayhad to leave the band after singing with the group for a short period
of time. Forrest recorded 38 singles with Shaw's band. Two of her biggest hits with Shaw were the songs "They
Say" and "All the Things You Are."
In late 1939, Forrest left Shaw
and joined Benny Goodman, with whom she recorded a number of celebrated songs, including the
hit song, "The Man I Love." She told the PopChronicles "Benny would look right above your
eyebrows, in the middle, right on top of the brow. He was a very strange man."
King Cole and Lionel Hampton in 1940. In 1941, Forrest was hired
by Harry James. It was with the Harry James Orchestra that she recorded what are
arguably her most popular numbers, including "I Had the Craziest Dream" in 1942 and
Want to Walk Without You." Forrest also dated James, until he met the woman he would later
marry, Betty Grable.
Because of her involvement with most of the popular bands of
the big band
was known as "the voice of the name bands."
Forrest left Harry James in late
1943 in pursuit of a solo career. In the late 1940s, she sang on Dick
radio show. It was with Haymes that she recorded the song, "Some Sunday Morning." In 1944 she made an appearance in
the Esther Williams movie Bathing Beauty with Harry James and his orchestra. After a dip in
recording in the 1950s, Forrest sang with Tommy
Dorsey's orchestra, led by Sam
Donahue in the early 1960s. She continued to sing in supper
clubs in the 1970s and 1980s. Her final album was released in
She kept singing until the early
1990s, when arthritis forced her
into retirement. Over the course of her career, she recorded more than 500 songs. Forrest acted in several musical
films, including Bathing Beauty and Two Girls and a Sailor, which both
came out in 1944. She was a civil rights activist as
Forrest married and divorced
three times, and had one son, Michael Forrest Feinman, who currently resides
in Lancaster, California.
Helen Forrest died
from congestive heart failure on July 11, 1999 in Woodland Hills,
California at the age of 82. Her final resting place is in Mount Sinai Memorial Park