A Tribute To Harriett Mary SmallThe Little Girl With The Big Voice
b.1922 Baltimore ~ d. 2007 Harlem
The recklessness of the roaring twenties was fresh in the minds of most Americans in the first years of the Great Depression. That’s why the sudden slip into economic calamity following the stock market crash was so instrumental to the evolution of our national character. Events like these can force entire societies to reflect on what’s important in life and those sentiments can often define entire generations.
This is the story of how the character of one little girl, like so many of that great generation, was shaped by those events, how she matured into one of radio’s biggest stars, and why history nearly forgot her.
To learn more about Mary and the rest of the story you'll have to browse through these blog entries which include newly discovered audio visual clips found nowhere else. A documentary is coming soon.
*Mary's name has been submitted for consideration for the 2013 Hollywood Walk Of Fame honors, hence the wallpaper. We hope to raise $30,000 on KickStarter in order to pay for the installation of the star.
Copyright 2012 Rafael Moscatel
From The Vitalent years. Thanks to Joe Bousard for this one!
This is a duet Mary Small did with her daughter and my biological mother Patty. It is the only recording I have of her voice and I’m thrilled to have found it! Patty was also a songwriter and may have been the original voice on “Don’t Cross The Street,” a public service announcement from the 1970’s.
The Coffee Song” (occasionally subtitled “They’ve Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil”) is a novelty song written by Bob Hilliard and Dick Miles, supposedly first recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1946 “according to Wikipedia” but performed by Mary Small on the hit show By Popular Demand on February 22nd, 1945. I believe in those days record labels used stars like Mary and Harry Babbitt, her co-star on this series, to test out songs on radio first, slowly build demand and then drop it on the public. However, the announcer and first voice of Superman, Bud Collyer, tells Mary that the request for the song (called in from Frank Sinatra)” has already been recorded… by Frank… in 1945.
This extremely rare recording is of Mary Small performing her original song, “Thank You, Mr. President,” with the Glenn Miller Orchestra in honor of Franklin Roosevelt’s Birthday on January 30, 1942. The annual event was part of a March Of Dimes fundraising drive. Special thanks to J. David Goldin for preserving and providing us with this unique piece of American History.
From Behind The Mike hosted by Graham McNamee September 29, 1940 on NBC / Blue. The story of how eleven year old Mary Small “The Little Girl With The Big Voice” was discovered and her first appearance on the Rudy Vallee show in 1933. She sings “Louisville Lady.”
“Too Marvelous for Words” is a popular song written in 1937. Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics for music composed by Richard Whiting. It was featured in the 1937 Warner Brothers film Ready, Willing and Able, as well as a production number in a musical revue on Broadway.
From The Mary Small Show. October 8, 1944. The program includes a “Junior Miss” skit, which was later spun off into a separate series. The first tune is, “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” Bud Collyer (announcer), Mary Small (host, performer, vocalist), Ray Bloch and His Orchestra, Sonny Schuyler (vocal), Patsy Moran, Betty Tilson.
This track “requested by Guy Lombardo” aired in 1945 on By Popular Demand which starred Mary and “Handsome” Harry Babbitt, with Ray Bloch conducting the orchestra and Bud Collyer (Mary was included in his NYT obit) hosting. The song was featured in the film “No Leave, No Love” with Van Johnson and Xavier Cugat. NPR did a great tribute to Babbitt which I’ve included below…
The 1937 Broadway musical Babes in Arms by Rodgers and Hart, ran for 289 performances and produced several hits. It revolved around a group of teenagers who put on a show to avoid being sent to a work camp. Mary covered it on her Junior Miss Show in 1944. The Rat Pack did a very clever rendition of the song which I must have tucked away somewhere or some when.
This is a favorite of my father Ray entitled Begin The Beguine by Cole Porter. It was followed by Mama Do I Gotta? made popular by Dinah Shore. For the banter between Mary and Jimmy Stewart see this post. I’ll post Mama Do I Gotta when I hafta.
“Begin the Beguine” is a song written by Cole Porter (1891–1964) and possibly composed during a cruise he took through Indonesia and Fiji around 1935.