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Space Age Music Maker

Ethel Smith


  • Born 22 November 1910, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Died 10 May 1996, Palm Beach, Florida

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.


Recordings (Courtesy of Dave Roemersberger)

  • Ethel Smith's Cha Cha Cha Album, Decca DL 8164
  • Christmas Music, Decca DL 8187
  • Galloping Fingers, Decca DL 8456
  • Latin From Manhattan, Decca DL 8457
  • Miss Smith Goes To Paris, Decca DL 8640
  • Dance To The Latin Rhythm's Of Ethel Smith, Decca DL 8712
  • Waltz With Me, Decca DL 8735
  • Lady Fingers, Decca DL 8744
  • Bright And Breezy, Decca DL 8799
  • Seated One Day At The Organ, Decca DL 78902
  • Bouquet Of The Blues, Decca DL 78955
  • Ethel Smith On Broadway, Decca DL 78993
  • Ethel Smith Swings Sweetly, Decca DL 74095
  • The Many Moods Of Ethel Smith, Decca DL 74145
  • Make Mine Hawaiian, Decca DL 74236
  • Lady Of Spain, Decca DL 74325
  • Rhythm Antics!, Decca DL 74414
  • At The End Of A Perfect Day, Decca DL 74467
  • Hollywood Favorites, Decca DL 74618
  • Ethel Smith's Hit Party, Decca DL 74803
  • Ethel Smith, Vocalion VL 3669
  • Organ Holiday, Vocalion VL 73778
  • Silent Night--Holy Night, Vocalion VL 73882
  • Parade, MCA Coral CB 20021


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