b. Elsbeth Holzman, 23 May 1904, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, d. 18 June 1971, Stamford, Connecticut, USA. Holman was regarded by some as the first great white torch singer, and by others as ‘a dark purple menace’, because of her tempestuous private life. She played minor roles in Broadway musicals such as Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s The Garrick Gaieties (1925), but became a featured star in Merry-Go-Round (1927), and Rainbow (1928), in which she gave a languorous performance of ‘I Want A Man’. After making the US Top 10 in 1929 with ‘Am I Blue?’, she was acclaimed a major star following her performance in The Little Show, in which she sang ‘Can’t We Be Friends’ and ‘Moanin’ Low’. Holman received rave reviews for her sultry renditions of ‘Body And Soul’ and ‘Something To Remember Me By’ in Three’s A Crowd (1930). Her career declined following the shooting of her husband Zachary Smith Reynolds. She was accused of his murder but the case was declared nolle prosequi, and never came to court. Holman returned to Broadway in Revenge With Music (1934), in which she introduced Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s insinuating ‘You And The Night And The Music’, and subsequently appeared in Cole Porter’s You Never Know (1938). Sadly, she never achieved her former heights. During the early 40s she caused a furore by appearing as a double-act with black folk singer Josh White, playing clubs and concerts in an era when a black male and white female stage relationship was frowned upon by many bookers and critics. Holman continued touring during the 50s presenting a programme called Blues, Ballads And Sin Songs, but still controversy followed her when she befriended ill-fated screen idol, Montgomery Clift. Mainly inactive in her later years, Holman is said to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
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