My Heart Tells Me : Dorothy CollinsG2008JCMarion

In November of 1926 in Windsor, Ontario, Marjorie Chandler was born. As a young girl her thoughts for her future were typical of the times. Maybe some secretarial work or clerical help in a business office. She always liked to sing however, and so her parents entered her in an amateur talent contest when she was twelve years old. Young Marjorie did well enough to win a prize and a chance to become part of the cast of a children's radio program being broadcast from the neighboring city of Detroit, Michigan. She remained on local radio for three years. At the age pf sixteen she met orchestra leader Raymond Scott who had some advice for the teenager - take singing lessons to improve her natural talent and if she showed marked improvement, he would find a spot for her with his band.

Marjorie, now using the name Dorothy Collins, followed Scott's advice and soon became part of his musical entourage. She did vocals with his small group and also performed in night clubs in various parts of the country. In the post war nineteen forties Dorothy made a number of recordings with Scott for the MGM label. "We Knew It All The Time" a Collins vocal was paired with "Manhattan Serenade" an instrumental by Scott and his orchestra on MGM # 10006 in 1946. This was followed by "Mountain High Valley Low Down" and an instrumental "Two Guitars" on # 10086 in 1947. The next year saw "Coming Through The Rye" and "You're Gonna Make A Wonderful Sweetheart" on # 10198, "I Love You Yes I Do" on # 10132, and "I'm Playing With Fire" and "Me And My Imagination" on # 10753. "How Many Times?" and "Did I Remember?" on # 11020 closed out the Decca years. In late 1949 Scott took over the helm of the orchestra on the radio program "Your Hit Parade" on the death of his brother Mark Warnow who had been in that position. The following year the sponsor of the program American Tobacco Company, planned to move the show to television and planned advertising commercials for their products on the relatively new medium. They commissioned Scott to come up with some ad jingles that would put their product on the minds of viewers. He wrote some catchy short tunes and had Dorothy Collins do the vocals. Collins who had been on the road with Scott's combo, did such an appealing performance on these proto-type commercials, that she was chosen to be the spokesperson for their product as well as a featured vocalist on the program.The program began in October of 1950 and was an instant success, and within two years Collins and Scott were married.

During the early nineteen fifties Collins recorded some sides for Decca Records. "From The Time You Say Goodbye" and "So Madly In Love" on # 28251 with Gordon Jenkins, was followed by "Puppy Love" and "If'n" on # 28421, and "A Small World" and "Silly Heart" on # 28574. A two sided duet with her "Hit Parade" co-star Snooky Lanson for Decca on # 28461 was released with the songs "I Will Still Love You" and "Jump Back Honey". Later Collins recorded for Scott's own record label Audivox Records. "My Heart Stood Still" and "To Make A Long Story Short" on Audivox # 100 was followed by "Mother Talk" and "Tico Tico" on # 102 and "Tiger Rag" / "Singin In The Rain" on # 104. "Mountain High Valley Low" and "Crazy Rhythm" were released on # 107, and "Break My Heart Gently" and "Could This Be The End Of A Dream?" on # 108. Leading into the mid fifties "No One Not Even You" and "My Love's A Gentle Man" on # 113 was issued followed by "Get Happy" and a cover of LaVern Baker's "Tweedle Dee" on Audivox #114. By late 1955 Dorothy Collins was signed to Coral Records, a subsidiary label of Decca. She continued the practice of recording R & B and rock 'n roll covers with her version of "My Boy Flat Top" (a hit for Boyd Bennett & The Rockets), coupled with "My Love" on Coral # 61510. This was followed by a cover of Clyde McPhatter's "Seven Days" and "Manuello" on # 61562, and a show tune cover of "Mister Wonderful" (a hit for Sarah Vaughn) and "Love Me As Though There's No Tomorrow" on # 61591. In late 1956 she covered McPhatter again on "Treasure Of Love" along with "You Got Me Hook, Line, and Sinker" for Coral on # 61647.

Collins was a fixture on "Your Hit Parade" until there was a complete cast change in 1957. She returned for a short lived revival of the show in 1959 that was not a success. During the late fifties she continued recording for Coral Records. There was "Italian Theme" and "Cool It Baby" on # 61711, "Christmas Comes But Once A Year" and "Baby's First Christmas" on # 61736, "I Miss You Already" / "Before I Die" on # 61790, and "Four Walls" and "Big Dreams" on # 61828."Sing It Children, Sing It" and "Soft Sands" on # 61865 was next, and then "I Love A Violin" / "I Want It To Be Right" on # 61939, "I Must Go All The Way" and a cover of Little Richard's "Send Me Some Lovin" on # 61982, and "Where Have You Been Billy Boy?" and "Never Love A Stranger" on # 61997. All through the fifties into the early sixties Collins was a regular guest on many television musical variety shows. Some examples were "Chevy Showroom" with Pat Boone and later, Andy Williams as host. She was a frequent visitor on other variety shows such as Steve Allen, Ed Sullivan, the Bell Telephone Hour, and Hollywood Palace. She was a guest contestant on the game show "Password" and even did a dramatic turn on the U.S. Steel Hour. In 1961 she was co host on the television show "Alan Funt's Candid Camera". Collins made a few recordings for the Top Rank label For the rest of the decade Dorothy Collins faded from the entertainment scene as the musical tastes of the new generations changed a great deal from those of the early fifties. In 1965 Collins and Raymond Scott divorced after thirteen years and two children. The following year she married Ron Holgate, an actor and singer who had a featured role in the Broadway production of "1776". They had one child, and that marriage ended in divorce for Dorothy Collins.

In the early nineteen seventies Collins career had something of a rebirth and re-invention as she had a leading role in the Steven Sondheim musical "Follies". Her showstopping performance of the song "Losing My Mind" won her rave reviews and a Tony nomination for best performance in a musical. She did not win, but her memorable performance led to many roles on stage throughout the country during the decade of the seventies. Plagued through much of her life with health problems due to suffering from asthma, she finally retired from performing in 1980 after more than four decades as an entertainer. She spent much of her retirement years working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, helping those in need. Dorothy Collins passed away in upstate New York in 1994 survived by her three daughters and a number of grandchildren.

Unfortunately there is little available in the way of musical recordings featuring the talent of Dorothy Collins. Those few cds are extremely rare and hard to find. "My Heart Tells Me" for Collector's Choice in 2003, is a ten track cd of mid nineteen forties radio broadcasts of Collins with Raymond Scott's Orchestra. "Picnic" is a Japanese import on Decca, featuring Collins on eleven songs written by Steve Allen and sung with the orchestra of Jack Kane. And then there is the original cast recording of "Follies" which omits some of the songs from the show but does include Collins signature song "Losing My Mind". The cd on Angel is from 1992.

Dorothy Collins deserves better than this sparse selection for her musical legacy. She was so much a part of our lives back in the early and mid nineteen fifties, that she practically defined American pop music for much of that time. We should have more to remember her by.

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