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Ethel Smith was probably the first to achieve success as a pop organist. Spotted by a talent agent while working as the house organist at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, she began appearing on radio in the late-1930s, she moved to Hollywood in 1940 and appeared in a string of minor musicals, including "Cuban Pete" with Desi Arnaz in 1941 and "Bathing Beauty" with Esther Williams in 1944. She co-wrote the theme song to "Cuban Pete" and recorded the best-selling cover of "Tico Tico," which later became her own theme song. She recorded and appeared on television through the 1950s and had a lively nightclub act, adding dancing, singing, brightly colored dresses and outlandish hats, and comedy routines to her already spicy organ playing. She also formed her own publishing company and put out a series of instructional books on the Hammond organ. She continued to perform at local clubs in the Palm Beach area after retiring in the mid-1970s.
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