10 November 1907
University City, St. Louis, Missouri, United States
22 April 1980 (aged 72)
Jane Froman was born to Anna T Barcafer and Elmer Ellsworth Froman in 1907. She spent her childhood in the small Missouri town of Clinton, Missouri, and her adolescence in the city of Columbia, Missouri, which she considered her hometown. Her parents separated when she was five. Jane began stuttering shortly after that, and it plagued her all of her life, except when she sang.
Although she had classical voice training, early in her career she was drawn to the songs of the era’s brilliant young songwriters, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin, who were inspiring a resurgence in popular music. In 1934, at age 27, she became the top-polled ‘girl singer’. The famous composer and producer, Billy Rose, when asked to name the top ten female singers, is reported to have replied, “Jane Froman and nine others”.
She was severely injured by an aircraft crash on February 22, 1943, when a USO plane carrying Jane and thirty-eight others crashed into the Tagus River in Lisbon, Portugal. One of fifteen survivors, Jane sustained horrible injuries: a cut below the left knee nearly severing her leg, multiple fractures of her right arm, and a compound fracture of her right leg that doctors threatened to amputate.
Jane underwent thirty-nine operations over the years. She stubbornly fought amputation, but with dignity and aplomb wore a leg brace the remainder of her life. However, she returned and entertained the troops in World War II, despite having to walk with crutches, giving ninety-five shows throughout Europe.
She is credited with three movies, Kissing Time (1933), Stars Over Broadway (1935) and Radio City Revels (1938). From 1952 to 1955, she hosted her own TV show The Jane Froman Show – initially called USA Canteen – on the CBS network. The show was fifteen minutes long and initially alternated with The Perry Como Show. The very first hit song to be introduced on television, I Believe, was written for Froman by the show’s musicians, Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl, and Al Stillman and earned her a gold record in 1953.
Jane Froman's life story was the subject of the hit film With a Song in My Heart (1952), starring Susan Hayward as Froman. Froman herself supplied Hayward’s singing voice. The Capitol album of songs from the movie was the Number One best-selling album of 1952 and remained in the catalogue for many years. DRG recently issued it on a compact disc along with the 1952 original cast album of Pal Joey. The show's star, Vivienne Segal, could not record the album because of a previous album made, so Froman was substituted and she does quite well with her vocals. A Collectors' Choice CD called Jane Froman on Capitol is a nice collection of her Capitol Records singles and tracks from albums.
Jane retired to her home town of Columbia in 1961, but continued the volunteer work for which she was known throughout her career. In 1980, she died of cardiac arrest due to chronic heart and lung disease.
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