Gertrude Niesen

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Niesen on Duffy's Tavern in 1940.

Gertrude Niesen (July 8, 1911 – March 27, 1975)[1] was an American torch singer, actress, comedian and songwriter who achieved popular success in musicals and films in the 1930s and 1940s.

Life and career[edit]

She was born in New York City, and took up singing as a career in the early 1930s, first appearing (credited as Gertrude Nissen) with Artie Shaw in a Vitaphone short, Yacht Party, in 1932. She recorded for Victor Records in the 1930s, and in 1933 was the first to record the song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach. She appeared in the Broadway musical Calling All Stars in 1934, and more successfully in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936.[2]

She also began to appear regularly in movies, including Top of the Town (1937), Start Cheering (1938), and A Night at Earl Carroll's (1940), in which she sang a song that she co-wrote, "I Want to Make with the Happy Times". Her other films included Rookies on Parade (1941), This Is the Army (1943), He's My Guy (1943), and The Babe Ruth Story (1948). She co-starred with Jackie Gleason in the 1944 stage musical Follow the Girls, in which she sang one of her best-known songs, "I Want To Get Married". She recorded for Decca Records throughout the 1940s, and released a self-titled LP for the label in 1951.[2] She also appeared on many radio shows, and on TV in the early 1950s.

She died in Hollywood, California in 1975, aged 63, after a long illness.[1]

Selected filmography[edit]

References[edit]