Fran Warren, the singer and thesp who appeared in 1952’s “Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd” and whose 1947 recording of “A Sunday Kind of Love” became one of the biggest hits of the Big Band Era, died of natural causes at her Brookfield, Conn., home on March 4. She was 87.
Star’s leggy career spanned more than five decades, continuing into the early 1990s, and included stints on the nightclub circuit, TV and a handful of recording labels.
Warren, born Frances Wolfe in the Bronx, N.Y., began singing in her teens and got her start working local clubs and dancing in the chorus line at the Roxy Theater. Bigger breaks came in the form of gigs for the bands of Randy Brooks, Art Mooney and Billy Eckstine.
Eckstine changed her name to Fran Warren, and the rising talent soon replaced Kay Starr with the Charlie Barnet band and also landed a spot with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, with which she recorded “A Sunday Kind of Love.” The song rose to No. 1 on the charts and bagged a Gold Record.
After several sessions with Thornhill, Warren signed solo with RCA Victor, charting with “Dearie” and the Tony Martin duet “I said My Pajamas (and Put On My Prayers),” and later at MGM, where she drew ears with “It’s Anybody’s Heart.”
Her discography includes “Mood Indigo,” “Hey There, Here’s Fran Warren,” “Something’s Coming,” “Come Into My World” and “Fran Warren in Nashville.”
Warren found a spot on the bigscreen in 1952’s “Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd,” in which she appeared opposite Charles Laughton, and the chantoosie was featured numerous times on TV with Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Joey Bishop and Steve Allen, as well as on PBS’ “Big Band Bash” special and many 1950s variety shows.
She enjoyed a popular musical comedy career, notching spots in “The Pajama Game,” “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Mame,” in which she played the titular role.
A charter member of the Society of Singers, Warren still has more than a dozen CDs in release, including “The Complete Fran Warren with Claude Thornhill,” “Let’s Fall in Love,” “It’s Anybody’s Heart,” “Something’s Coming” and “Love For Love.”
Warren was pre-deceased by her husband Woody Witt and daughter Jody Steinman-Ellentuck. She is survived by her daughter Athena Witt.