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 Helen Morgan

Helen Morgan

Birth
Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois, USA
Death 8 Oct 1941 (aged 41)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Alsip, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Plot Section 14, Block 2, Lot 10, Grave 2
Memorial ID 732 · View Source
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Entertainer. Real name Helen Riggins. The original "Torch Singer," Morgan was a farmer's daughter who rose through Chicago speakeasies to national fame as a popular vocalist. Her urban, blues-tinged voice, wrapped around songs of loneliness and heartache, and trademark draped-over-the-piano pose made her an icon of the Jazz Age. Morgan was born in rural Danville, Illinois. She worked as a biscuit packer, shop girl, and manicurist before taking vocal lessons and performing in local cabarets. After winning a beauty contest she headed for Broadway and made her debut as a chorus girl in Florenz Ziegfeld's "Sally" (1923). Morgan went on to appear in George White's "Scandals" revues, Ziegfeld's "Follies," and such musicals as "Americana" (1926) and "Grand Guignol" (1927). Her greatest triumph was as the tragic Julie La Verne in "Show Boat" (1927), in which she created a sensation singing "Bill" and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man." She also acted in over a dozen films, including "Applause" (1929) and the 1929 and 1936 screen versions of "Show Boat," reprising her role as Julie. But her singular talents and "fallen woman" mystique were best-suited to smoky nightclubs, where she exposed the dark, empty side of jazzy hedonism with tunes like "Why Was I Born?," "Don't Ever Leave Me," "Nobody Wants Me," "What I Wouldn't Do For That Man," and "Serves Me Right for Treating You Wrong." With the aid of mob connections she tried to launch her own nightclub but was thwarted by the FBI. Morgan fell into a heavy drinking habit and her career was eventually destroyed by alcoholism. She died at 41 of cirrhosis of the liver. Ann Blyth played the singer in the Hollywood biopic "The Helen Morgan Story" (1957).

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 732
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Helen Morgan (2 Aug 1900–8 Oct 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 732, citing Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .