Jane Green

Jane Green was a major name for a time in the 1920s, but her early death and the passing of many decades have resulted in her being largely forgotten. Born in Louisville, Green grew up in Los Angeles, learned the songs of the era from her actress mother, and at 14 began working in clubs. At that stage, she often performed vaudevillian blues and ragtime-oriented songs. Green was more than a singer, and was also a champion trick horse rider who appeared occasionally at rodeos. To play it safe, she also graduated from business college. She and her first husband, Jimmy Blyer, worked as the vaudeville team Geren & Blyer. She sang while Blyer was her piano accompanist and musical director. They were a hit in New York in 1918, sometimes worked with Eddie Cantor in the early '20s, and introduced "Everybody Loves My Baby" and "I Never Knew I Could Love Anybody," although unfortunately they did not record either song. Blyer's death in 1924 ended that part of Green's life.

Jane Green made her first records in 1920, recorded frequently for Victor during 1923-1927, and worked with Isham Jones during 1924-1925. While Mildred Bailey usually gets the credit for being the first female singer featured regularly with a top dance orchestra (joining Paul Whiteman in 1929), Green actually predated her by five years. In 1927 when she was 30 and at the height of her fame, Jane Green was a passenger in a car that was involved in an accident. Her nose was broken and she suffered internal damage that probably affected the remainder of her life. She made a comeback, but a second marriage was a constant headache for her and she lost a lot of her money in the 1929 Wall Street crash. She was active in radio during 1929-1931, hosting a 45-minute weekly program, Jane Green's Manhattan. But the singer had increasingly shaky health and died of a stroke when she was just 34. ~ Scott Yanow

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