Carol Swiedler (Stage name Carol Richards or Carole Richards), (June 6, 1922 – March 16, 2007) was an American singer, radio and television performer, remembered for her duets with Bing Crosby on the hit single "Silver Bells" and on the song "Sunshine Cake."
The daughter of George and Martha Vosburgh, Richards was born Carol June Vosburgh in Harvard, Illinois. She had three siblings. Her father worked for the Northwestern Railroad. She began performing at age 4, but within a couple of years her mother thought she was acting "like a diva", and wouldn't let her take the stage again until she was 11.
Richards worked as an actress at a radio station in Indianapolis, Indiana, until she had to sing in one of her roles. "The station offered me a job as a vocalist, and I took it," she said. "And I've been singing ever since."
At the start of her career in her early 20s, Richards won a Bob Hope talent contest, moved to Hollywood and appeared on numerous TV shows including I Love Lucy, Name That Tune, The Saturday Night Revue, and variety shows hosted by Dennis Day, Edgar Bergen, and Ezio Pinza.
Richards was a regular cast member on The Pinky Lee Show (April 5, 1950 - November 9, 1950), both singing and playing Lee's girlfriend; on The Ralph Edwards Show (January 14, 1952 - May 16, 1952) and on The Bob Crosby Show (1953–1957).
In the film The Petty Girl (1950), Richards supplied the singing voices for both Joan Caulfield and Movita Castaneda. She also was the voice double for Vera Ellen in Call Me Madam (1953), for Cyd Charisse in Silk Stockings, Brigadoon (1954), Deep in My Heart (1954), and It's Always Fair Weather, and for Betta St. John in The Robe.
In 1949, Richards signed a contract with Decca Records. Her first recording on that label (Decca 24680) featured "I Wish I Had a Wishbone". She was accompanied by Sonny Burke and his orchestra. A review in the trade publication Billboard commented, "New Decca thrush makes a satisfactory debut with an infectious little rhythm ditty." In 1950, Richards and Bing Crosby recorded "Sunshine Cake" (Decca 24846). They were accompanied by Victor Young's orchestra and Jeff Alexander's chorus.
Richards' voice was featured on the soundtrack recording from The Robe (1953). Decca's release of that album resulted in a $400,000 legal suit by Richards against Decca Records and M.C.A. Artists. The suit charged that she recorded the song for use in the film and did not authorize any other use of it.
Richards worked frequently with Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, and Bob Hope, and sang with the Russ Morgan and Desi Arnaz Bands. In December 1951, Richards accompanied ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and accordionist Domenick Frontiere on a 10-day tour of 14 military hospitals in the United States. Dubbed "Operation Santa Claus," the tour also distributed 10,000 pounds of gifts that people across the country had donated to patients in the hospitals. A 1955 newspaper article about Richards reported, "She's drawn a big hand as featured attraction at Ciro's, The Shamrock Hotel, and other swank night spots."
Richards gave up her career after marrying Edward Swiedler.
Following her performing career, Richards continued her work as an artist, completing numerous sculptures, pastels, and oil paintings as well as publishing a book Letters from the Cosmos with her husband.
Richards' first marriage occurred at age 16, and for a time she was known as Carol Lutzhoff. She changed her last name to Richards in honor of a favorite nephew. She was married five times, marrying fifth husband Edward Swiedler in 1966 after moving to the Chicago area in the 1960s. Her third husband died and her other marriages ended in divorce. Richards had 5 children, 19 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
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