Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Miss Lee Morse, songbird extraordinare:
A Long-forgotten voice from the past...
...and she's great, she really is...

I recently read a biography on the life of Libby Holman, a somewhat scandalous (allegedly scandalous) torch singer of the 1930's, so naturally, I wanted to hear what she sounded like, so I went over to YouTube, and some of her music was indeed posted there. And I thought she was pretty good, with a very unique vocal tone.

While on YouTube, I saw a 'related' listing for another singer of that era, MISS LEE MORSE...and, it turns out she made three 10-minute "film shorts", two of which I have enclosed here. I must admit that when I saw these "little movies", I became totally enraptured with her casual, off-handed, all-natural 'girl-next-door' type of personality. She passed away eight months after I was born, in December of 1954. But I'm glad I found her, anyway. Spirits like hers live on; they've just got to...

I did some research on Miss Morse, and she some of had the standard show-business problems that have persisted through the ages; evidently she had a problem with the bottle, and she could be hard to get along with; her temper was legendary. But I think she had a sweet, sincere side as well; I really do. These two "film shorts" were made in 1930, when her career was beginning to slide, but, if she's on the downhill side here, she must have been amazing in her prime.

Her talent, charm and grace is captivating; I've watched these films numerous times, and am literally blown-away each and every time I see them. Elton John once sang about Marilyn Monroe with the viewpoint of "a young man in the 22nd row" of the theater; here, I write about Miss Lee Morse from the perspective of an admirer who's discovered someone with something-special way too late. I stumbled upon her by sheer accident; and if you've got 20 minutes to spare, I'd like to share her with you...

This first Lee Morse "film-short" is titled "SONG SERVICE", in which she meets with a director for negotiations, but he wants her to sing, not negotiate...and the humor and charm in this little film is just absolutely undeniable...



This next Lee Morse movie-ette is called "A MILLION ME'S", in which she's got the blues over a quarrel with her beau, but her talent agent enables her to see things just a bit differently...she's everywhere, she's everywhere...



Miss Morse made quite a few records in the '20s and '30s, and again in the late '40s and early '50s, after a bout with strep-throat threatened her singing career. She and her husband ended up living in Rochester, New York, and she sang in some nightclubs and appeared on radio in the area. In December, 1954, she passed away due to complications resulting from her "battle with the bottle". Now she's one of legions of departed spirits, roaming out there somewhere...but the human condition, the life, the spirit...those can never die.

A bit of trivia...she was always billed as Miss Lee Morse so that people reading theater marquees or nightclub advertisements wouldn't mistake the name "Lee" for a man's name. Her first name was actually Lela. Miss Morse was 33 when these two "film-shorts" were made. And, although she had a big voice, she was barely 5 feet tall, weighing barely 100 pounds. So now you've met Miss Lee Morse. Hopefully, if but for a short while, with this post, I've succeeded in bringing her back to life.
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If you're intrigued by Miss Morse as much as I continue to be, you can get to know her better, and listen to LOTS of her music at www.LeeMorse.com. In addition, www.LeeMorse.net provides some good information. She's worth getting to know. She's quite a lady.

2 Comments:

Anonymous avs said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely woman from the past. It reminds me of the many times I have felt a kinship with persons who died years or centuries before I was born, usually through listening to their music or reading their writings. Beautiful minds live on...and sometimes they feel very close.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

Thank you, avs...I was researching someone else when I found Miss Morse...and there's something about her; in her eyes, her spirit, something really special that can never die. I am not kidding, I literally fell for her when I first saw her movie clips. She was all set for instant fame by appearing in a Ziegfeld Follies' revue...but she got drunk and couldn't show for the first night, and was replaced by another singer, Ruth Etting. I have since seen some of Ms. Etting's work, and she doesn't hold a candle to Lee Morse. Most of all, thank you for replying to this; I was beginning to think I was deranged, pining for a woman who died the year I was born.

6:30 PM  

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