Artist

Ginny Simms

Singing with the orchestra of Kay Kyser or on her own, Ginny Simms was a popular figure of mid-'40s wartime.

Born in Texas but raised in California, she studied piano as a child, but her singing aspirations originated at Fresno State Teachers College when she formed a singing trio with two other members of her scenario. She began getting club dates, and it was while singing in a nightclub in San Francisco that Simms was heard by bandleader Kay Kyser, who sought her out and signed her up. Simms became the featured singer and a top attraction of Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowlege, a musical/comedy revue done in the style of a quiz show with music, which would include swing as well as pop. In addition to radio and records -- for Brunswick and Vocalion during the 1930s and Columbia in the 1940s -- Simms appeared with Kyser in his films for RKO, starting with That's Right, You're Wrong (1939).

Simms was getting her own featured spots on radio even then, and her records were released under the name Ginny Simms & Her Orchestra, using the Kyser outfit. She grew tired of the road, however, and left Kyser in the early '40s for her own career. With her own radio show, sponsored by Philip Morris on NBC, she became a popular figure during the war, interviewing servicemen from all over the globe who got to give messages to their families over the air. Her voice made her equally effective as a swing or pop singer, and her good looks, highlighted by stunning cheekbones, made Simms a natural for movies -- she played a prominent featured role in the Abbott and Costello musical comedy Hit the Ice (1943), doing four songs, including the ballad "I'd Like to Set You to Music." Simms later starred in the MGM Technicolor musical Broadway Rhythm (1944), starring George Murphy and Gloria DeHaven, and later in Shady Lady (1945) and Night and Day (1946). Her brand of music and musicals fell out of fashion after the war, and by 1951 she was retired from films. Simms' recording career ended soon after, although she returned to the studio for Capitol's recording of Kyser's music in the early '50s, and a stereo release of her own work in late 1960. Simms was married three times, and died in 1994. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi