Biography of American Popular Singer Kate Smith

About the famous American popular singer Kate Smith, history and biography.

Kate Smith (1909- ). If Kathryn Elizabeth Smith of Greenville, Va., had known about Weight Watchers, the world might never have known about Kate Smith. It was her considerable size, as well as her considerable voice, which made the lady a household word and favorite from the 1920s until the present. She was supposed to become a registered nurse. She never took a singing lesson in her life, and she still can't read music, but she wanted to sing.

Kate Smith has sung "God Bless America" so many times that it is now considered our country's 2nd national anthem. She introduced Bing Crosby to radio audiences on her own show. She was the 1st private citizen to get the American Red Cross Medal of Valor. In 1933, during the Depression, she was making $3,000 a week and was the highest paid woman star in radio.

Ten years later, her astute manager and friend Ted Collins had negotiated a contract that paid her $12,780 for one radio show a week. She was a favorite of soldiers in both World Wars. Although she can legally collect her Social Security, Kate keeps on singing, on records and TV specials.

It all started back in 1924 when Kathryn, whose one and only vice was always eating, asked family permission to enter the Saturday night amateur contests at the Keith Theater in Washington, D.C. She entered 3 and won all 3, a $5 gold piece for each. Finally, there was a bonus, too--a week's appearance at the theater.

Over the protests of her staunchly religious family, Kate persisted and worked the week, taking 2nd billing to comedian Eddie Dowling.

She was on her way, out of Washington to Broadway shows: Honeymoon Lane in 1926, Hit the Deck in 1929, Flying High in 1930. It was during that production that producer George White refused to give her time off to be with her dying father. She never forgave White. But she did meet Ted Collins that same year, a meeting which changed her entire life and made them both very rich people. When Flying High closed, Collins became Kate's manager and Pygmalion. In 1932, she made her 1st movie, Hello Everybody.

"When the Moon Comes over the Mountain" became her theme song. She accepted fat as her fate. She told one newspaperwoman that because of her size, she believed in dressing simply and being covered up. All of her. Even a flash of bare arm was verboten. "I want dignity, always," she insisted.

Show business gossips being what they are, for years there was talk that Kate and Collins had more than just a business arrangement. She overlooked that too. In truth, Collins was much married and had a family of his own. Kate never married.

When Collins died at 63 in 1964, Kate cut back on her own activities, but still enjoys working occasionally with some of her good pals--Perry Como and Tennessee Ernie Ford among them.

Her sign-on and sign-off lines on the radio show epitomized the simplicity and honesty that is Kate Smith: "Hello, everybody," and "Thanks for listenin'." The late President Franklin D. Roosevelt probably said it best when he presented her to Queen Elizabeth and King George VI at the White House in 1939: "Your Majesties, this is Kate Smith. This is America."

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