Helen O’Connell

Helen O’Connell, 73, the green-eyed blonde big band singer whose songs were popular with GIs during World War II, died Thursday of cancer.

Born in Lima, Ohio, on May 23, 1920, her singing career took off in 1939 when she recorded “Green Eyes” with Bob Eberly as a vocalist with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

She also popularized such songs as “Tangerine,” “Amapola,” “Jim,” “I Remember You,” “Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurry” and “When the Sun Comes Out.”

In the 1950s she worked with Dave Garroway on NBC’s “Today” show. For nine years she was hostess of the Miss Universe Pageant.

This summer she toured with a big band show and performed for the last time at the Valley Forge Music Fair in Valley Forge, Pa., on Aug. 14.

The tour’s producer, Craig Hankenson of Tampa, Fla., said she had to leave the tour just before it ended because she was experiencing pain.

O’Connell married Frank DeVol, a composer, arranger and conductor, in 1991.

She is survived by her husband and four daughters.

The funeral will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Paul’s Catholic Church , 10750 Ohio St., Westwood.

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