Helen Ward, a former singer with the Benny Goodman band whose supple voice and sense of swing contributed to the early success of his band, died April 21 of natural causes in Arlington, Va. She was 82.
Born in New York in 1916, Ward began her career by performing in several bands and on various radio programs. Following an audition for Benny Goodman, she joined his band as a vocalist.
Ward sang with Goodman on the radio program “Let’s Dance,” from December 1934 to May 1935, and recorded songs including “Goody Goody,” “It’s Been So Long” and the million-seller “These Foolish Things.”
She toured and recorded with the band from 1934-36 and rejoined Goodman for performances and recordings after World War II.
Ward later performed with several big bands, including Hal McIntyre and Harry James. She also recorded with James, Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa, Bob Crosby and Red Norvo, among others.
After retiring in the late 1940s, she rejoined Goodman for tours and recordings in 1953, 1957 and 1958. In 1979 she came out of retirement and performed at clubs in New York. “The Helen Ward Song Book” was released in 1981.
She is survived by her husband, Bill Savory.