Helen Traubel

Helen Traubel

Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
Death 28 Jul 1972 (aged 73)
Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Sanctuary of Remembrance
Memorial ID 1041 · View Source
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Opera Singer. She was a leading Wagnerian soprano of the mid-20th. century, and later had a noted television and night club career. Raised in St. Louis, she trained as a concert singer and made her debut with the St. Louis Symphony in 1923. Helen was soon appearing throughout the country, earning praise for her recitals with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Having turned down a 1926 offer from New York's Metropolitan Opera, she made a rather belated operatic bow on May 12, 1937, as Mary Rutledge in the world premiere of Walter Damrosch's "The Man Without a Country". After singing Sieglinde from Wagner's "Die Walkure" with the Chicago Opera, she made her Metropolitan debut in the same role. Initially, Helen's opportunities were limited; inevitably suffering by comparison to the great Kirsten Flagstad, she also saw the glamorous Marjorie Lawrence firmly in place as the company's second Wagnerian diva. In 1941, however, political troubles sent Flagstad back to Norway, while polio curtailed Lawrence's career for a time. Through the 1940s, she was to make her mark in most of Wagner's principal creations, performing Elisabeth in "Tannhauser", Brunnhilde from the "Ring Cycle", and the title lead of "Tristan und Isolde". Quite capible of singing in Italian, she was never given the chance to do so in a full opera, but did include arias and songs in her concert programs. Away from the opera, Helen kept up a busy schedule of radio and, later, television, appearances during which she sang both classical and popular music, and even participated in comedy skits. Eventually, she added The Marschallin from Richard Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier" to her repertoire, but in 1953 she found herself fired by the Metropolitan because General Manager Rudolf Bing considered her outside activities demeaning. (He later tried without avail to correct his mistake). Helen's response was to put her nightclub and television career into full swing. While headlining at New York's top venues, she appeared on the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis show, as well as that of Jimmy Durante, and on Broadway was a madam in Rogers and Hammerstein's "Pape Dream". (Despite Helen's good reviews, the show flopped). In Hollywood, she was seen in "The Ladies Man", "Deep in My Heart", and other features, while on television she appeared opposite Groucho Marx in a Bell Telephone Hour production of "The Mikado". Helen authored a 1959 autobiography, "St. Louis Woman", having earlier written a detective mystery featuring a character based on herself as the heroine. She was honored with stars on both the Hollywood and St. Louis Walks of Fame, and a peach-colored rose carries her name. A portion of her recorded legacy continues to be available.

Bio by: Bob Hufford

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1041
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Helen Traubel (16 Jun 1899–28 Jul 1972), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1041, citing Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .