Actress | Singer | Born Frances Newbern Langford on April 4, 1913 in Lakeland, FL, Died July 11, 2005 of congestive heart failure in Jensen Beach, FL
Frances Langford, a 1930s and '40s singer known for her warmth and rich voice, traveled widely with Bob Hope entertaining troops in World War II.
Langford, dropped out of Hollywood in the mid-1950s but kept performing for many years at the Outrigger, a restaurant she owned in Jensen Beach, Fla.
Langford's biggest hit was "I'm in the Mood for Love." She first performed the song in "Every Night at Eight," a 1935 musical comedy film starring Alice Faye about three singers seeking fame with a bandleader, played by George Raft. The Dorothy Fields-Jimmy McHugh song, which she also sang in the 1936 film "Palm Springs," became Langford's signature tune.
Langford appeared in other movies, including "Born to Dance," "Hollywood Hotel," "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "This Is the Army." Her last film role was in 1954, when she appeared as herself in "The Glenn Miller Story."
Langford was also heard for many years on the radio, including several seasons in the late 1940s and early '50s as Blanche Bickerson to Don Ameche's John Bickerson on NBC (later on CBS, with Lew Parker) in a comedy show about a relentlessly squabbling couple.
Yet it was her role as an entertainer for GIs abroad as well as for those who returned home injured that earned her a lasting reputation as a star whose patriotism and compassion exceeded her desire to burnish her own image. Besides World War II, Langford entertained troops abroad during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
In all, she visited bases in England, Africa, Sicily, the Caribbean and the Pacific, earning the nickname "sweetheart of the fighting fronts."
In 1952, Langford and her then-husband, matinee idol Jon Hall, and a troupe of entertainers spent six weeks in Korea performing for GIs. Publicity at the time said they visited every division and every unit along the 155-mile front.
In 1966, she also joined others who entertained troops in Vietnam for several weeks.
Langford began in vaudeville and by her late teens was on the radio in Tampa, Fla., where Rudy Vallee heard her and gave her a guest spot on his radio show.
After playing a small role in "Here Goes the Bride," which ran for seven performances on Broadway in 1931, Langford was heard on a number of radio shows, including "Colgate House Party," until getting a prominent role in "Every Night at Eight."
During the late 1930s and '40s, she appeared on radio in "American Cruise" with Dick Powell, Bob Hope's show, the Chase & Sanborn show with Spike Jones and, in the late 1940s, "The Bickersons."
Critic Leonard Maltin, writing in "Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio's Golden Age" about Langford's performance, said, "She was quite simply sensational." "The Bickersons" entered the American lexicon as a reference to any couple that constantly squabbled over nothing.
— Claudia Luther in the Los Angeles Times July 12, 2005