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Seeley, Blossom (1891–1974)

Seeley, Blossom (1891–1974)

American actress and singer. Name variations: Blossom Fields. Born in San Pueblo, California, on July 16, 1891; died in New York City in April 1974; married Joseph Kane (divorced); married Rube Marquand (a baseball player, divorced); married Benny Fields (a singer), in 1921 (died 1959); no children.

A petite, blonde bundle of energy with a voice that was easily heard in the third balcony, Blossom Seeley began her stage career singing between acts at the San Francisco Repertory Theater. Stage star Lew Fields discovered her there and brought her to Broadway in 1914 to co-star with him and his partner Joe Weber (Weber and Fields) in The Hen-Pecks. She subsequently appeared with Al Jolson in Whirl of Society, and with Marion Davies in the Irving Berlin musical Stop! Look! Listen! Seeley reached her zenith, however, on the vaudeville circuit, where she received top billing and popularized such songs as "The Japanese Sandman," "Smiles," "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans," and "California, Here I Come."

Beginning in 1921, Seeley formed an act with her third husband, singer Benny Fields, who had enjoyed little success before Seeley came along. The couple performed throughout the 1920s, although there was little doubt that Seeley was the truly talented one of the pair. In 1934, Fields went out on his own, and Seeley predicted that her husband would now become the star of the family. But he had little success as a solo act and soon faded into obscurity.

The couple had been out of the limelight for a number of years when Paramount filmed Somebody Loves Me (1952), a musical based on their lives, starring Betty Hutton and Ralph Meeker. The film sparked renewed interest in Seeley and Fields, who had an opportunity to reprise their routine on television and in such clubs as the famed Coconut Grove. They even cut a new album, Two a Day at the Palace. Seeley never formally retired, even after the death of her husband in 1959. She was at work on her memoirs in 1968 when she broke her hip in a fall and was taken to a Manhattan nursing home. She remained there until her death in 1974.

sources:

Lamparski, Richard. Whatever Became of …? 4th series. NY: Crown, 1973.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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