Tilton, Martha (1915—)

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Tilton, Martha (1915—)

American singer and actress. Born on November 14, 1915, in Corpus Christi, Texas; married an aerospace executive, in 1953; children: three.

Sang in Al Lippan's band; appeared on Benny Goodman's radio show (1940s); appeared in films Sunny (1941), Swing Hostess (1944), Crime, Inc. (1945), and The Benny Goodman Story (1956); hosted "Liltin' Martha Tilton Time" on NBC Radio (c. 1948); appeared on series of radio shows (1950s and 1960s).

Known as "Liltin' Miss Martha Tilton" during the Big Band era of the 1940s, Martha Tilton was the female singer on bandleader Benny Goodman's 1940s radio show. Her best-known hits were "And the Angels Sing," "Time After Time," "I'll Walk Alone," and "How Are Things in Glocca Mora."

Tilton was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1915, but her family moved to Los Angeles when she was seven months old. Her piano-playing parents exposed their daughter to music early on. Then friends convinced the teenage Tilton to sing with a small band at a party. When that same band played at a local radio station, they asked her to come along. Tilton stayed on at the station as a regular performer without pay. Soon she was singing at the Coconut Grove with Al Lippan's band, a stint which was followed by a two-year tour with Hal Grayson's group. Tilton next became the "Miss" of "Three Hits and a Miss," which later evolved into the swing chorus for Benny Goodman's radio show.

Her break came when Goodman's lead female singer left the program, and Tilton was hired to fill the position. She spent the next three and a half years singing, recording, and appearing on radio programs. Despite a grueling performance schedule (she had one day off in a two-year period), she also appeared in four films: Sunny (1941), Swing Hostess (1944), Crime, Inc. (1945), and The Benny Goodman Story (1956).

In 1948, she began starring in her own NBC Radio program, "Liltin' Martha Tilton Time," which aired for several seasons. With Curt Massey, Tilton worked for eight years, starting in 1951, for Alka Selzer on CBS Radio. The two then continued performing together for another five years, with Country Washburn's Orchestra on NBC-TV. After NBC terminated the program in 1964, Tilton retired. The mother of three children, she later settled in the Mandeville Canyon section of West Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.


Lamparski, Richard. Whatever Became of…? 5th series. NY: Crown, 1974.

Lolly Ockerstrom , freelance writer, Washington, D.C.