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He dropped out of college to join a British big band at London’s Savoy Hotel but returned to Yale in 1925 and graduated with a degree in philosophy. In 1928 he formed the Connecticut Yankees band which was booked into the Heigh-Ho Club in New York. There he picked up his introductory “Heigh-Ho Everybody” and became the rage, singing into a megaphone to enhance his thin voice.
The Hollywood film, The Vagabond Lover (1929), featured the band, and their weekly radio broadcasts drew large audiences and high profile guests. Vallee also recorded several successful singles that year, including “Marie.” He enjoyed success throughout the ‘30s as a radio personality and crooner and appeared in several films as a collegiate heartthrob.
But in the ‘40s he turned to character acting, playing a prissy millionaire with a pince nez in The Palm Beach Story (1942). He led a Coast Guard orchestra during World War II and returned to Hollywood to appear in more films, excelling as the nerdy boyfriend of Myrna Loy in The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer. (1947). His major role came in the stage version of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 1961, which he reprised in the 1967 film.
He is credited with introducing “If I Had You” and “Sweet Lorraine.”
- Sandra Burlingame
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The Vagabond Lover (1929)
Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, RudyVallee
The Palm Beach Story (1942)
Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Rudy Vallee
The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947)
Maureen Arthur, Janice Carroll, Jeff DeBenning, Paul Hartman, John Holland
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
MGM (Video & DVD)
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