Website of the Week: Monica Lewis

For almost two decades, Monica Lewis was a certified pop music and pop culture phenomenon — the rhapsodic vocal essence of the Jazz Age. She was the idealized, wholesomely sexy sound and image of apple-pie America, lending a melodious voice of hope to thousands of U.S. troops through two of the 20th century’s greatest wars.

She was the magazine cover girl with the mile-wide smile and the ad world’s Most Wanted with the million-dollar legs. On the screen, she supported legendary Hollywood actors with her sass, brass, song and dance while posing a blonde, bodacious threat to fellow MGM Studios performer Lana Turner. On the airwaves, she was a Top Banana — singing her way into TV and radio history as the oh-so-a-peelin’ cartoon persona of the venerable Chiquita Banana brand.

Monica’s course toward classic song styling was set as a child. She was the youngest of three children born to musical parents: her father, Leon, was a symphonic composer and pianist, and her mother, Jessica, sang with the Chicago Opera Company. After the Great Depression forced the Lewis clan to relocate from Chicago to New York City, there was no shortage of sibling rivalry: Monica’s sister, Bobbe, established herself as an accomplished concert pianist, while her brother, Marlo, co-created Ed Sullivan’s landmark television show, TOAST OF THE TOWN (later renamed THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW).

Having studied voice with her mother since a mere toddler, Monica quit junior college at 17 to work as a vocalist on THE GLOOM DODGERS, a popular radio wake-up program on New York’s WHN. This and other early airwaves successes led to her debut at Manhattan’s legendary Stork Club and subsequent discovery by the “King of Swing,” Benny Goodman, whose imprimatur hastened her ascent as a vocalist/co-host on nationally broadcast programs including BEAT THE BAND, THE CHESTERFIELD HOUR: MUSIC THAT SATISFIES and THE REVERE CAMERA SHOW.


Monica Lewis website.

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