You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kay Finegan


Kay Finegan, a singer and music arranger of the big band era who later reinvented herself as one of New York’s top caterers, died April 22 in Lincroft, N.J. She was 95.

In her music career she worked with Benny Goodman, the Dorsey Brothers and Ted Fioritto. She called herself “the hyphen” in the Sauter-Finegan orchestra co-founded by her husband, Bill Finegan.

Born in San Francisco as Vivian Blessing, Finegan went out on her own as a teenager and began singing in speakeasies of the 1920s under the name Kay Ray. She caught the eye of wealthy benefactors who suggested she open her own club.

She met Bill Finegan in 1936, and plunged into the heady world of the big band era, becoming the band singer, manager and credited arranger with Finegan on many famous tunes including “Little Brown Jug.”

When she and Finegan divorced in the early 1960s, she was a grandmother in her 50s seeking a new career. She chose to become a caterer, leasing a small storefront on New York’s First Avenue.

She named the place Call Cuisine and every day she would feature a gourmet take-home dinner in the window that included a salad, entrée and dessert. Each order came in a china casserole which had to be returned, ensuring that customers would come back.

As her fame spread, New York’s elite would send limousines to her shop to collect their dinners. Among her apprentices was Patrick Terrail, who later started Ma Maison in Los Angeles.

At 70, she catered one last enormous party, then sold Call Cuisine, which is still on First Avenue. She began traveling full-time and, at 75, entered an around-the-world scavenger hunt.

She is survived by three grandsons and a great granddaughter.

More Scene

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron attends the 44th Annual

    Alfonso Cuarón to LAFCA: 'Thanks to Your Help We Can Break Down Walls'

    Inclusion was the big winner at the L.A. Film Critics Association Awards, which was held Saturday night at the InterContinental in Century City. “This year’s winners are the most diverse in LAFCA’s 43-year history,” announced its president, Claudia Puig, adding that 14 out of their 18 awards were won by women and people of color. [...]

  • Mandatory Credit: Photo by Max Malandrino/REX/Shutterstock

    Hollywood Power Players Assemble to Save Iconic Deli Nate 'n Al

    A group of Hollywood executives and celebrities have banded together with the intent to save Beverly Hills deli and star haunt Nate ‘n Al, a stone’s throw from tourist destination Rodeo Drive. A consortium of investors including music kingpin Irving Azoff and wife Shelli, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Jeff Shell, and Rande Gerber and [...]

  • Charlie Collier, FOX Chief Executive Officer

    'The Passage' Team Talks Diversifying Races, Genders and Ages of Book Characters

    “The Passage” star Saniyya Sidney was unaware that the book version of her character was originally white until her father, a fan of Justin Cronin’s apocalyptic trilogy, informed her during the audition process. “I was like, ‘Oh, she is?'” Sidney told Variety at Thursday’s series premiere in Santa Monica, Calif. “And when I got it, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content