Durelle Alexander was a talented child performer, and appeared in "Hollywood Junior Follies" and several silent "Our Gang" comedies throughout the 1920s. She would later have a singing career appearing as a featured performer with Paul Whiteman on NBC's radio shows "Kraft Music Hall" and "Paul Whiteman's Musical Varieties". She would later tour with the prominent big bands of Paul Whiteman, Eddy Duchin, Smith Ballew, and Archie Bleyer. While appearing with Whiteman in "Billy Rose's Casa Manana", a centennial celebration of Ft. Worth, Texas, she met Edmund Van Zandt, grandson of the city's founders, whom she would soon marry.
Durelle Alexander was born March 30, 1918 in Greenville, Texas. In 1924 at the age of 6, Durelle went with her mother to Hollywood, CA, and made appearances in several silent 'Our Gang' comedies and "Hollywood Junior Follies". She made her stage debut at 8 years old. A few years later at the age of 12, she moved with her mother to New York and began singing with orchestras. By the age of 14, she signed a contract with Paul Whiteman.
By 1935, Durelle was appearing as a featured vocalist on Whiteman's radio show "Paul Whiteman's Musical Varieties" and "Kraft Music Hall" on NBC. Throughout this period, she would appear in several "Radio Guide" magazine articles. By September 1936, she made the cover. She also made several recordings with other artists like Archie Bleyer and Smith Ballew. The first known recording with Durelle on the vocals was "Animal Crackers In My Soup" with Smith Ballew and his Orchestra, recorded in July 1935. In 1936, Durelle toured with Paul Whiteman in Billy Roses' Annual Texas Centennial, where she met Edmund Pendleton Van Zandt Jr, who was only two years her senior and was also born in Texas.
Marriage and death
Durelle and Edmund were married in 1939, and during their 33 years of marriage, (until his death in 1972), they reared three children and lived in Venezuela, London, England, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. Durelle continued to perform and moderate public affairs television programs. In 1975, Durelle Alexander married a widowed family friend, Col. Harry Taylor Eidson and they moved to Austin to be near their children and grandchildren. She and Harry became beloved by their friends and neighbors as they walked in their Baylor St. neighborhood and frequented neighborhood restaurants, and became involved in the historic preservation of the district. In May 1994, Durelle Alexander died. Memorial services were held on Memorial Day in Austin, Texas.
- "Animal Crackers In My Soup" w/Smith Ballew and his Orch. Recorded 1935
- "When I Grow Up" from the film "Curly Top", Rex 8715 - B
- "Sugar Plum" w/Paul Whiteman and his Orch. Recorded 1935.
- "No Strings" w/Paul Whiteman and his Orch. Recorded 1935
- "I've Got A Feelin' You're Foolin'" w/Archie Bleyer and his Orch. Recorded 1935
- "On A Sunday Afternoon" w/Archie Bleyer and his Orch. Recorded 1935
- "And Then Some" w/Paul Whiteman and his Orch. Recorded 1935
- "Wah-Hoo!" w/Paul Whiteman and his Orch. Recorded 1936
- "There's A Small Hotel" w/Paul Whiteman and his Orch. Recorded 1936
- "Comes Love" w/Eddy Duchin and his Orch. Recorded 1939
- "I Must Have One More Kiss,Kiss,Kiss" w/Eddy Duchin and his Orch. Recorded 1939