In the golden era of Big Band music and classic Hollywood films, Dick Haymes stood out as a vocal powerhouse. With a career spanning the 1940s and ’50s, Haymes’ velvet voice made him a sensation in the realms of music, radio, and cinema. Although he may not be a household name today, his contributions to the entertainment industry during these decades are certainly noteworthy.
Born Richard Benjamin Haymes on September 13, 1918, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to British parents, Haymes moved to the United States at an early age. He was raised in a musical family, which paved the way for his entry into the world of showbiz.
Rise to Stardom in the 1940s
The 1940s were a turning point for Haymes. He got his first major break as a vocalist with the Harry James Orchestra, replacing the iconic Frank Sinatra. This was a pivotal moment in his career and catapulted him into the limelight. He was soon signed by Decca Records, where he enjoyed a successful stint releasing several hit singles.
Dick Haymes’ talents weren’t confined to the stage and recording studio. Hollywood also beckoned, and he landed roles in a variety of films during the 1940s, including musicals like “State Fair” (1945) and “One Touch of Venus” (1948). His good looks and compelling screen presence complemented his singing prowess, making him a double threat in the industry.
The Transition to the 1950s
As the 1940s closed, Haymes continued his career into the next decade. However, the 1950s were not as kind to him as the previous decade had been. With the advent of rock ‘n’ roll, the traditional pop and Big Band sounds began to wane in popularity. Although he managed to continue recording and even ventured into television, he faced financial difficulties and personal challenges that impacted his career.
Radio and Television Appearances
Despite some setbacks, Haymes still found a platform in radio and later television. His radio show, “The Dick Haymes Show,” was quite popular and ran for several years. He also guest-starred in various TV shows and took roles in television films. His adaptability allowed him to remain relevant even as the musical landscape changed.
One of the aspects that made Haymes’ career remarkable was his collaborations with other industry greats. He recorded duets with several leading female vocalists of the time, including Helen Forrest and Judy Garland. These collaborations produced chart-topping hits and are considered classics today.
Personal Life and Struggles
While his professional life had its ups and downs, Haymes also had a tumultuous personal life. He was married six times, with each relationship attracting its share of media attention. Financial struggles and legal issues also plagued him, casting a shadow over his otherwise impressive career.