Jane Morgan (born May 3, 1924) is an American popular music singer. Morgan initially found success in France and the UKbefore achieving recognition in the U.S. She won six gold records.
Morgan was born Florence Catherine Currier in Newton, Massachusetts, one of five siblings born to Bertram H. and Olga (née Brandenberg) Currier, who were both musicians. When she was four years old, Jane and her family moved to Daytona Beach, Florida. The following year she began receiving vocal lessons, while continuing her study of the piano. During the summers, she took on child roles and appeared in theater productions at the Kennebunkport Playhouse in Kennebunkport, Maine, which her brother had founded.
While attending grade school, Morgan actively engaged in singing and competing against other students throughout Florida and the Southeast. After graduating from Seabreeze High School, Morgan's multiple musical skills and overall background enabled her prompt acceptance into New York's prestigious Juilliard School of Music where she studied, intending to become an opera singer. She studied opera by day and performed whenever possible.
Morgan sang popular songs in nightclubs, private parties, bar mitzvahs, and small restaurants to earn spending money to help pay for her tuition expenses at Juilliard. Eventually she was hired as a singer at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan with the house second band for $25 a week, six nights a week. While she was still in Juilliard (1944), orchestra leader Art Mooney heard her perform and hired her. Mooney changed her name to Jane Morgan by taking the first name of one of his vocalists, Janie Ford, and the last name of another, Marian Morgan.
In 1948, she was selected by French impresario Bernard Hilda to accompany him to Paris. Hilda was a prominent French society bandleader who needed a young singer to perform at a nightclub that he planned to open near the Eiffel Tower. Morgan began to appear regularly at the Club des Champs-Elysées, performing (two shows per night) American songs to mostly French audiences. Her mother had taught her French and Italian, so she quickly became proficient in French, and performed her act in flawless French, singing the classic songs of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, French songs, and standards of the century. Morgan became a sensation in Paris, and accompanied by Hilda and his gypsy violin, quickly became known throughout France. French café society frequented Hilda's upscale club, which was likened to the Copacabana in New York. Many French songwriters, including Charles Trenet, frequented the club, and they wrote several songs that became hit recordings for Morgan. Morgan and Hilda soon opened a new weekly hour-long television show, and she began recording in 1949 on the French Polydor label as well as Parlophone, Philips, and others.
In 1952 Morgan went to Montreal, Canada, and opened at the Ritz Hotel as a soloist with a bilingual act using French and English. She returned to New York with regular performances in upscale nightclubs and her own radio show on NBC, backed by the 50-piece NBC Symphony Orchestra. She also performed at the St. Regis Hotel in New York. She returned to Europe in 1954 to appear in a London West End review with comedian Vic Oliver, and later at the Savoy Theatre and London Palladium. During this period, she married Larry Stith.
Morgan wanted to advance her career in the United States, but booking agents and managers in show business felt she was too specialized and wouldn't make it outside the nightclub circuit. She left her agent and began singing at Lou Walters' Latin Quarter in New York. Walters kept Morgan at the Latin Quarter for a year, when she was noticed byDave Kapp, who had recently founded a new recording label, Kapp Records. Kapp signed Morgan to a recording contract, and near that same period he also signed pianist Roger Williams.
To counter her reputation as a French singer, Kapp had Morgan record "Baseball, Baseball," and her first album release was entitled "The American Girl from Paris". She recorded several additional albums and soon was paired with Williams, who had gained national acceptance with his recording of Autumn Leaves. They recorded Two Different Worlds, which gave Morgan her first significant airplay on US radio. In 1957 Kapp brought The Troubadors, a virtually unknown group of five musicians, to his studio. They had appeared in the 1957 comedy film Love in the Afternoon.
Kapp asked Morgan to join The Troubadors and sing "Fascination". Although written in 1904 by F. D. Marchetti as "Valse Tzigane", the song was modified in Paris at the Folies Bergère as a "strip" number. With English lyrics added by Dick Manning in 1932, it had been played throughout the 1957 movie (the French lyric had been created in 1942). Morgan's recording was released in late 1957 and remained on the charts for 29 weeks. In 1958 Kapp released The Day the Rains Came (a French song by Gilbert Becaud called "Le jour où la pluie viendra") with Morgan singing in English on one side and in French on the other. It reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in January 1959. This led directly to her first TV Special, Spectacular: the Jane Morgan Hour in early 1959. She was featured on the November 10, 1959 jazz special Timex-All-Star Jazz III alongside Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Anita O'Day, Gene Krupa, Bob Crosby's Wildcats, Les Brown and his orchestra and Chico Hamilton and his orchestra.
Morgan wanted to perform in musicals on the stage and Broadway. She appeared in Can-Can, Kiss Me, Kate, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bells Are Ringing, Anniversary Waltz,Affairs of State and others. She also appeared in nightclubs around the U.S., complemented with television appearances and bookings in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. In 1959, Morgan was one of six contestants in A Song for Europe to determine the UK's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 1959. She sang "If Only I Could Live My Life Again", but the song was not selected.
Morgan's agent died in 1959, and her new manager, Jerry Weintraub, was able to obtain bookings for her in many noted US venues. (Morgan divorced Larry Stith and would later marry Weintraub in 1965; she and Weintraub later adopted four children.) In 1960, she recorded the English language version of an Italian song, Romantica. The recording was anairplay hit on BBC Radio. She continued recording for Kapp until 1962, her last album being What Now My Love, released later that year.
Morgan ended her association with Kapp Records after eight years. Weintraub negotiated a deal for three albums for Colpix including Jane Morgan Serenades the Victors, a side by side LP along with that recorded by Frank Sinatra as dual soundtracks of the music heard in the film The Victors. Morgan's second Colpix LP, The Last Time I Saw Paris garnered excellent reviews and a hit single, "C'est Si Bon". After fulfilling her contract with Colpix, Morgan recorded numerous singles and four albums for Epic. During this period she had consistent hit singles on the adult contemporary charts and continued to appear on top TV programs of the day. Morgan appeared at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Canada in 1964; was the lead singer with Bea Lillie and Carol Lawrence in the Broadway musical production of the Ziegfeld Follies, and succeeded Angela Lansbury in Mame in 1966. "Being on Broadway was one of the most exciting things in my life because I had always dreamed of it", she said.
In 1966, Morgan recorded the song that she had performed at the Academy Awards, I Will Wait for You, written for her by Michel Legrand. From 1967-68, Morgan was under contract at ABC Records, recording a dozen singles and issuing one LP which produced several hit singles and led to her second TV Special, The Jane Morgan Special. Syndicated in March 1968, the show featured the Doodletown Pipers and its highlight was her musical tribute to Edith Piaf. Her two final albums were for RCA Records. Her final LP, Jane Morgan in Nashville, yielded two moderate hits on the country and western charts including her answer to Johnny Cash's song, A Boy Named Sue, titled A Girl Named Johnny Cash (written by comic Martin Mull.) She performed the song on Cash's eponymous television series in early 1971. Producer Ronnie Light worried that his age (25 at the time) might make Morgan uneasy. Co-producer Chet Atkins stated that Morgan was a joy and that everyone enjoyed working with her. He also noted that she sincerely wanted to be a success in the country/western music genre. Of the experience, Morgan stated that she was "thrown a bit" by the fact that Nashville normally dispensed with formal arrangements and was known for "head arrangements". The only other time she had recorded without formal arrangements was on her hit single, "Fascination"; nevertheless she was reportedly dubbed "The Countryest Girl in Nashville" by the crew. She retired from performing in 1973, but has appeared occasionally over the years at special events and benefits. She has in recent years worked as a production assistant to her husband on films including the remake of Ocean's Eleven.
On December 10, 2009, Morgan performed at the UNICEF Ball honoring her husband, Jerry Weintraub, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, singing "Ten Cents a Dance" and "Big Spender". On May 6, 2011 she received the 2,439th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Known as Jane Weintraub, she divides her time between Malibu, California, Palm Springs, California and Kennebunkport, Maine. Morgan has owned Blueberry Hill Farm in Kennebunkport, Maine since 1958.
Morgan performed for French President Charles de Gaulle, and for five U.S. Presidents: John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George W. Bush. She toured with Jack Benny and John Raitt, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry. Two of her RCA singles hit the Billboard country charts in 1970.
Morgan made her U.S. television debut on Celebrity Time in 1951. Her early television credits include The Victor Borge Show, The Colgate Comedy Hour, Cavalcade of Stars andThe Jonathan Winters Show and The Hollywood Palace, as well as more than 50 appearances/performances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Morgan appeared in such television specials as Highways of Melody 1961; Bell Telephone Hour: "A Trip to Christmas (1961); Bell Telephone Hour: Christmas Program (1965); Bell Telephone Hour: Masterpieces and Music (1966); Coliseum (1967); Kraft Music Hall: Broadway's Best (1969) and Operation: Entertainment (1969); starred in three of her own television specials: The Jane Morgan Hour (1959); Voice of Firestone: An Evening in Paris (1959), and The Jane Morgan Show (1968), as well as making several dramatic television appearances, including The Web: Rehearsal for Death (1952); Peter Gunn: Down the Drain (1961); and It Takes a Thief: The Suzie Simone Caper (1970).