Gene Austin

Gene Austin

Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas, USA
Death 24 Jan 1972 (aged 71)
Palm Springs, Riverside County, California, USA
Burial Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Great Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Sacred Promise, crypt 14180
Memorial ID 2076 · View Source
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Singer, Entertainer. His singing style was remarkably influential, attractive and appealing to millions. Gene Austin's vocal sound became known as crooning (performing in a soft low voice) during his singing in the 20's and 30's. Some very successful imitators that followed...Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Russ Columbo. He was born Lemeul Eugene Lucas in Gainesville, Texas to parents Nova Lucas and Serena Belle Harrell but grew up in Louisiana. A blacksmith step-father, Jim Austin would enter his life and he would assume his surname. Gene worked with his step-dad as a teenager in his blacksmith shop becoming proficient in shoeing and handling horses. At 17, he enlisted in the army and was assigned to the cavalry serving in Mexico with the PanchoVilla Expedition which netted him the Mexican Service Medal. His army stint extended to World War I with assignment overseas to France. In the postwar, an attempt to become a dentist was short lived. His future career was defined in Houston, when on a dare, while attending a vaudeville act where the audience was given an opportunity to participate, he took the stage and in a clear tenor voice rendered a song which brought down the house. His only training in music was as a juvenile, when a member of a Southern Baptist choir. The vaudeville company responded with a job offer leading to a career which would span some forty years. His popularity peeked in the late1920's and continued through the 30's while working various nightclubs and featured on radio during its early pioneer days. His RCA Victor recordings were sold by the millions and fans hand-cranked their phonograph players to listen to the clumsy 78 RPM discs. He composed over a hundred songs and his most notable and recognized..."When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?" and "Lonesome Road." Gene introduced many hit tunes...his most famous, a twelve million seller, "My Blue Heaven" and a few more, "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" "My Melancholy Baby" "Girl of My Dreams" "Ramona" "Carolina Moon" and "Sleepy Time Gal." Gene had a modest film career debuting in 1931 with appearances in three credited movies..."Sadie McKee" "Gift of Gab" and "Melody Cruise." His career waned in 1939 but had one last hooray while working with Billy Wehle in a traveling tented musical-comedy show and upon closing had a few years more as a nightclub performer then simply disappeared until 1950. His life was dramatized in a television special which rejuvenated his career. He continued as a nightclub entertainer while continuing to write songs until his death from lung Cancer at Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. Interred at forest Lawn, Glendale and on his mausoleum crypt is a plaque with an epitaph noting his top song..."There's a new Blue Heaven in the sky, where love and friends will never die." Legacy...He spent most of his adult life living in Las Vegas but retired to Palm Springs in the early 60's. Gene Austin was busy with politics. In Nevada, an attempt at the governorship in 1962 ended in failure. Again, he was active in Riverside County, California serving on various county civil boards almost to the day of his death. A bibliography entitled "Austin Americans" was published in 1972. Gene Austin was posthumously awarded a "Grammy Hall of Fame Award" for his 1928 recording of "Bye, Bye, Blackbird" and in 2005 was nominated and admitted to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 2076
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Gene Austin (24 Jun 1900–24 Jan 1972), Find a Grave Memorial no. 2076, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .