When big band aficionados gather to discuss their favorite crooners of the Big Band period, inevitably three names come up. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Argentinian-born Dick Haymes. Haymes was perhaps one of the most popular vocalists of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Born to Irish and British parents in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1918, his parents traveled extensively until immigrating to the United States. He was the older brother of actor Bob Haymes.
By the mid-30s, the Haymes family moved to Los Angeles and the handsome seventeen year old Dick found work in Hollywood as a motion picture double. But it was his interest in singing that made him quit the film business to relocate to New York in search of work as a big band vocalist. The now nineteen year old’s boyish good looks, charm and natural singing ability opened up doors to sing with several bands in the Big Apple. After writing a few songs in 1939, he approached bandleader Harry James, and while James wasn’t impressed with Dick’s music writing abilities, he was impressed with his singing skills and eventually hired Haymes on as vocalist to replace Frank Sinatra when Sinatra left the James organization to work for Tommy Dorsey. It would not be the only time at Dick Haymes followed in Sinatra’s footsteps.
On September 3rd, 1942, Frank Sinatra introduced Haymes on radio as Sinatra’s replacement in the Tommy Dorsey band when Sinatra went “solo”. By 1945 Hollywood called again- this time opening doors for the now famous singer to co-star with Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews and Vivian Blaine in the musical film production of “State Fair.”
It was during the war years that Dick Haymes enjoyed some of his greatest hits, teaming with vocalist Helen Forrest on several million-sellers including “Together,” “I’ll Buy That Dream,” and “Long Ago & Far Away”. Haymes also made two recordings with Judy Garland for Decca Records of songs from the film “The Shocking Miss Pilgrim” (in which he starred with Betty Grable).
From 1944 to 1948, he had his own radio program, ‘The Dick Haymes Show’, first on NBC and later on CBS. In the post-war years Dick Haymes frequently performed with the Andrews Sisters on multiple Decca Records recording sessions, including hit tunes “Teresa,” “Great Day,” and “My Sin”. His duets with Patty Andrews were also well received. In 1947 he teamed once again with the Andrews Sisters and fellow crooner Bing Crosby resulting in the million-selling hit “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” as well as “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better).” His popular renditions of tender ballads such as “Little White Lies” and “Maybe It’s Because” were recorded with Sinatra arranger Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra.
In the late ‘40s and early ‘50s Haymes hosted radio’s “Club Fifteen” with the Andrews Sisters, and briefly enjoyed a whirlwind romance and two-year marriage to film star Rita Hayworth. He would marry a total of six times.
Dick Haymes was one of the finest male ballad singers of the big band era, considered by many to be the near-equal of the likes of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Dick Haymes talent shines through in his hits “It Can’t Be Wrong,” “Till the End of Time,” and “It Might as Well Be Spring.” In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Haymes continued performing and recorded a live album at the Ambassador Hotel’s Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles. He last recorded in 1978, and lost his long bout with cancer at the age of 61 in 1980. Dick Haymes’ Centennial birthday is September 13th, 2018.
Swing Street Radio salutes Dick Haymes all during September.