At 3-1/2, she appeared at the Palace Theater, doing two shows a day as part of comedian Ted Healy's routine (Ted Healy would go on to put together "The Three Stooges." She soon became a child star. By age 6, she appeared on "The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour," a radio program sponsored by Horn & Hardart's "Automat," a then-well-known restaurant chain, and by age 7 she was working with Milton Berle on his "Community Sing" radio program, using the name "Jolly Gillette" and playing the sponsor's "daughter" (the sponsor was Gillette Razors). She would ask to sing, he would tell her she couldn't, and she would remind him that her daddy was the sponsor, so he'd let her sing a current hit song. At 8, she had a daily singing program of her own on radio station WMCA, "Arnold's Dinner Club." She also acted on radio series such as Death Valley Days. At age 11, she left show business briefly. At age 14 she went on the Broadway stage as an understudy to Nancy Walker in Best Foot Forward, followed by an appearance under her own name with Elaine Stritch in Angel in the Wings. At age 15, she appeared as a guest singer on a Johnny Mercer variety series, leading to her being noticed by Frank Sinatra, who took her under his wing and put her in a regular spot on the CBS radio show that he hosted in the 1940s.
She co-starred on Sinatra's show for one year, and was also part of Sinatra's act at the Paramount Theater in 15 appearances there. She also appeared on her own and as a guest performer with such stars as Count Basie, Nat King Cole, and Danny Kaye. Soon she got her own radio programs, first one called Teen Timers, and later the 13-episode The Eileen Barton Show. She also did some early television. Her first record, done for Capitol Records, was "Would You Believe Me?" (catalog number 402), with the orchestra of Lyle "Skitch" Henderson, in 1948. In 1949 she cut the record of "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake" (written by Bob Merrill, Albert Hoffman and Al Trace; Trace used the pseudonym Clem Watts) and introduced it on Don McNeill's radio program, The Breakfast Club. On the record, Trace's band musicians backed her, but were given billing as "The New Yorkers." It was first released by National Records, a New York-based company mostly specializing in rhythm & blues records, as catalog number 9103, and when National's owner, Al Green, decided it was too big a seller for National to handle, it was later distributed by Mercury Records, whose co-owner was Al Green's son, Irving Green.
The record became one of the best-selling records on an independent label of all time, charting at #1 for 12 weeks, and altogether on the Billboard charts for over four months. As is often the case in early music business stories, Eileen - in an interview in 2005 - indicated she never received a penny in royalties from either National or Mercury for her record's success, although by contract she was supposed to receive 5% of each sale. After the success of this record, she became a night club and stage performer, appearing at all the important clubs in New York City and many others. She continued to record for both National and Mercury, making "Honey, Won't You Honeymoon with Me?" (catalog number 9109) and "May I Take Two Giant Steps?" (catalog number 9112) for National and "You Brought a New Kind of Love" (catalog number 5410) for Mercury. Later she moved over to Coral Records, and charted with some cover versions of songs that were bigger hits for other artists, such as "Cry," "Sway," and others. She also appeared in motion pictures and television, working the restaurant and night club circuit well into the 1970s. Eileen Barton died at her West Hollywood home from ovarian cancer. She had no children and was not married at the time of her passing.
Barton was 81 years old at the time of her death. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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