b. 16 July 1891, San Francisco, California, USA, d. 17 April 1974, New York City, New York, USA. As a child performer, and while still in junior school, Seeley appeared in San Francisco theatres, performing speciality acts. Later, she moved to Los Angeles where she appeared in burlesque. Spotted by impresario Lew Fields, she was recruited for his New York show, Henpecks, opening on Broadway in 1911. Her act was a smash, her tough, rhythmic singing proving to be a big attraction and undoubtedly helping the show’s long run. Her success also led to her next appearing with Al Jolson in the following year’s The Whirl Of Society. When Seeley appeared as a solo act, she competed strongly with major artists such as Sophie Tucker and more than justified not only her billing as ‘The Hottest Girl in Town’ but also her salary of $1, 500 weekly, an enormous sum for the 20s. Among the songs she either introduced or helped make famous, were ‘Somebody Loves Me’, ‘Way Down Yonder In New Orleans’, ‘I Cried For You’, ‘Smiles’, ‘Alabamy Bound’, ‘Yes Sir, That’s My Baby’ and ‘Chicago’, with which she had a hit in 1922. Seeley was married three times, first from October 1911 to January 1913 to her manager, Joe Kane, then from March 1913 to 1920 to New York Giants’ baseball pitcher Richard ‘Rube’ Marquard, with whom she had a son, and finally, in 1921, to her accompanist, Benny Fields. With Fields, she starred at New York’s Palace Theatre for 1927’s 100th anniversary of vaudeville, and the duo helped popularize yet more songs, including ‘Melancholy Baby’ and ‘Lullaby Of Broadway’. Also with Fields, she made a Vitaphone short film, Blossom Seeley And Benny Fields, and in 1952 their life story was recounted in a Hollywood biopic, Somebody Loves Me, starring Betty Hutton and Ralph Meeker. The couple also recorded in the 50s and appeared on radio until Fields’ death in 1959. Thereafter, Seeley made sporadic returns to showbusiness, not only on radio but also on television with an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and sang on into her seventies and eighties.
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