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Connie Haines: Peppy Singer Dies at 87

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Connie Haines
Connie Haines, a peppy, petite, big-voiced singer with a zippy, rhythmic style who most famously teamed up with Frank Sinatra as lead vocalists with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

Haines then went on to a prolific career of her own, died on Monday in Clearwater Beach, Fla. She was 87. The cause was myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease, said Roseanne Young, a friend.

Miss Haines made 200 recordings, including 24 records that sold more than 50,000 copies; regularly filled up prestigious nightclubs like the Latin Quarter in New York; and performed five times at the White House. Polls in music magazines in the 1940s rated her as one of the top female band singers.

While Sinatra specialized at the time in ballads and slow foxtrots, Miss Haines threw herself into rhythmic up-tempo tunes. Where did you learn to swing like that? Dorsey asked when he first heard her at a club in New Jersey. And when can you join my band?

Her recordings including gospel, pop and soul, as well as big-band barnburners. The best-selling ones included You Might Have Belonged to Another; Oh! Look at Me Now; What Is This Thing Called Love?; and Will You Still Be Mine? A crowd favorite was Snootie Little Cutie, which often elicited ad libs from Sinatra.

She made the most of her sultry Southern accent, sometimes to Sinatras amusement. In her personalized rendition of Lets Get Away From It All, she improvised, Well spend a weekend in Dixie. Ill get a real Southern drawl. Sinatra piped in, Another one?

Miss Haines appeared on the radio with Abbott & Costello, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Jack Benny, among others. On television she appeared with Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan, Eddie Cantor and Perry Como. Her work on Frankie Laines variety show drew particular note.

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