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Evans, Dale (31 October 1912–07 February 2001), actor and singer-songwriter, actor and singer‐songwriter, was born Lucille Wood Smith in Uvalde, Texas, the daughter of Walter Hillman Smith, a cotton farmer and hardware dealer, and Bettie Sue Wood. At an early age her name was changed to Frances Octavia Smith. During her childhood the family moved to Osceola, Arkansas, where Frances attended local schools and enjoyed singing with church and social groups. She was bright, skipped several grades, and entered high school at the age of twelve. Two years later, to her parents' dismay, she eloped with her boyfriend, Thomas F. Fox, and gave birth to their son the following year. Soon afterward Fox deserted the family, leaving Frances to raise the child on her own; the couple divorced in 1929 when Frances was seventeen....

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Maxwell, Elsa (24 May 1883–01 November 1963), international hostess, songwriter, and newspaper columnist, was born in a theater box during a touring company’s performance of Mignon in Keokuk, Iowa, the daughter of James David Maxwell, an insurance salesman and part-time journalist, and Laura Wyman. Her childhood was spent in a modest flat situated among the elegant homes on San Francisco’s Nob Hill. A disappointment there at age twelve may have influenced her later party giving. A neighbor, the wealthy senator ...

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Ronell, Ann (25 December 1905–25 December 1993), composer and lyricist, was born Ann Rosenblatt in Omaha, Nebraska, the third of four children born to Morris Rosenblatt, a coal dealer, and Mollie Rosenblatt (maiden name unknown). The year of Ronell's birth has appeared variously as 1903, 1906, and 1908; she was also known as Anne and Anna. She was descended from recent immigrants, her father being a Russian émigré who arrived in this country from Czarist Russia in 1890 and settled in Omaha. After graduating from Omaha's Central High School in 1923, she enrolled first at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and then transferred following her sophomore year to Radcliffe College, where she could receive more intensive musical training. Her teachers at Radcliffe included Edward Ballantine, Archibald Davison, Edward Burlingame Hill, and Walter Spalding, all notable teachers of composition....

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Suesse, Dana (03 December 1909–16 October 1987), composer, lyricist, pianist, and writer, was born Nadine Dana Suesse in Kansas City, Missouri, daughter of Julius Suess and Nina Quarrier Suess. The surname is pronounced “Sweese.” A child prodigy, Dana Suesse won prizes—one, for composition, from the National Federation of Music—and scholarships when she was nine. As a child, she played the piano, danced and sang, wrote poetry that was published in newspapers, and designed clothes. Her earliest piano studies were in Kansas City with Gertrude Concannon, a student of Emil Paur. After her graduation from high school in 1926 she moved to New York, hoping to be discovered, and studied with Alexander Siloti, a pupil of Liszt....

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Swift, Kay (19 April 1897–28 January 1993), composer, lyricist, and songwriter, was born Katharine Faulkner Swift in New York City, the daughter of Samuel Swift, a music critic, and Ellen Faulkner Swift, an interior decorator. She began her musical studies at the age of seven, later won a scholarship to the Institute of Musical Arts (now the Juilliard School), and in 1920–1921 attended the New England Conservatory, where she studied piano with Heinrich Gebhard and composition with ...