Dick Haymes Biography

Richard Benjamin Haymes, 13 September 1916, Buenos Aires, Argentina, d. 28 March 1980, Los Angeles, California, USA. One of the outstanding ballad singers to emerge from the swing era of the late 30s/early 40s, with a deep, warm baritone voice and a straightforward style similar to Bob Manning, another singer who was popular in the 50s. Son of a Scottish father, and an Irish mother who was a concert singer and vocal coach, Haymes was educated in several countries including France, Switzerland and the USA. After working as a radio announcer, film extra and stuntman, and taking small parts in vaudeville, he replaced Frank Sinatra in the Harry James Band in 1941 and worked briefly for Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey before going out as a solo act in 1943.

Signed for US Decca Records, he had a string of hits through to 1951, including ‘It Can’t Be Wrong’ (number 1), ‘You’ll Never Know’ (number 1), ‘Wait For Me, Mary’, ‘Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey’, ‘How Blue The Night’, ‘Laura’, ‘The More I See You’, ‘I Wish I Knew’, ‘Till The End Of Time’, ‘Love Letters’, ‘That’s For Me’, ‘It’s A Grand Night For Singing’, ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’, ‘How Are Thing In Glocca Morra?’, ‘Mamselle’, ‘I Wish I Didn’t Love You So’, ‘Little White Lies’, ‘You Can’t Be True, Dear’, ‘It’s Magic’, ‘Room Full Of Roses’, ‘Maybe It’s Because’, ‘The Old Master Painter’ and ‘Count Every Star’. During this time he also recorded duets with Judy Garland, such as in ‘For You, For Me, Forevermore’ (1947), as well as joining Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ (1947), and Ethel Merman in ‘You’re Just In Love’ (1951). He also had several hits with another ex-Harry James singer, Helen Forrest, which included ‘Long Ago And Far Away’, ‘It Had To Be You’, ‘Together’, ‘I’ll Buy That Dream’, ‘Some Sunday Morning’, ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’ and ‘Oh! What It Seemed To Be’. Haymes was also successful on radio with his Here’s To Romance and the Autolite shows.

His first starring role in films was in Irish Eyes Are Smiling (1944), a musical biopic of composer Ernest R. Ball (‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’, ‘Dear Little Boy Of Mine’, ‘A Little Bit Of Heaven’ and ‘Let The Rest Of The World Go By’). His other film musicals included Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe (1945), State Fair (1945), Do You Love Me? (1946), The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947), Up In Central Park and One Touch Of Venus (both 1948). In most of the movies he featured opposite some of the most glamorous leading ladies of the day, including June Haver, Betty Grable, Jeanne Crain, Maureen O’Hara, Deanna Durbin and Ava Gardner. His career waned somewhat in the 50s, hampered by tax problems and immigration departments. He also had financial troubles over the years with some of his various wives, who included film stars Rita Hayworth and Joanne Dru, singers Edith Harper and Fran Jeffries, Errol Flynn’s ex-wife Nora, and finally, model Wendy Patricia Smith. A switch from Decca to Capitol Records in 1955 produced two albums of standard ballads, Rain Or Shine and Moondreams, with arrangements by Johnny Mandel and Ian Bernard, which are generally considered to be classics of their kind. Both are available together on one CD.

During the 60s Haymes lived and worked mostly in Europe, and in 1969 made a UK album entitled Now And Then, a mixture of his old favourites and more contemporary material. On his return to the USA in the 70s, he undertook television and cabaret dates, and recorded a live album Dick Haymes Comes Home! First Stop: The Cocoanut Grove, on which he was backed by an old name from the swing era, the Les Brown Band Of Renown.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.