She was a shapely, sultry singer. Connie Russell came from show biz parents and was already performing in her parent’s song-and-dance vaudeville act by age two. The New York-born Connie, whose musical heritage included well-known vaudevillian and grandmother Marie Russell, traveled both in the U.S. and Europe during her early days. She turned solo at age 11 and, quite mature for her age, began booking her own shows at popular London night spots in her mid-teens.
Making her musical film debut in Melody and Romance (1937) while in England, MGM signed her up and she appeared to good advantage in Lady Be Good (1941) in which she sang “Fascinating Rhythm” but, despite her pin-up good looks, did not go on to better things with the studio, appearing in small parts in Joe Smith, American (1942) and the Red Skelton/Eleanor Powell musical Ship Ahoy (1942). She also dubbed Claire Trevor‘s singing voice in the film Crossroads (1942).
TV proved to be more viable medium for her when she auditioned for Dave Garroway and became a regular on his Garroway at Large (1949) show. She appeared on a number of variety TV shows for such luminaries as Morey Amsterdam, Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen, Milton Berle and Eddie Cantor, and appeared in New York clubs in the early 50s. Returning to Hollywood she earned a strong showing in the musical film Cruisin’ Down the River (1953) alongside Dick Haymes and became a prominent Las Vegas headliner. On the musical stage one of her most popular roles was in 1951’s “South Pacific” as Nellie Forbush co-starring Richard Eastham,” but hopes for the subsequent film role went down the tubes when the role went to Mitzi Gaynor.
A solid recording artist with a jazzy style, her more popular renditions include “That’s What a Rainy Day is For” and “You’ve Changed.” Her last films were in This Is My Love (1954), in which she appeared as herself and sang the title tune, and the femme lead in the film noir thriller Nightmare (1956) with Kevin McCarthy and Edward G. Robinson. Marrying agent Mike Zimring, she abandoned her four-decade career after giving birth to her third daughter. She died in 1990 at age 67 of a heart ailment. Eldest daughter Lisa is also a singer.
As she appeared in “Lady Be Good”, above..