Singer Keely Smith, 89, died in Palm Springs on Dec. 16, according to The Mercury News (please confirm before running). Smith was married to singer and trumpet player Louis Prima from 1953-61, and it was at his side she became a star (she later married record producer Jimmy Bowen and singer Bobby Milano). With her signature bobbed hair and deadpan demeanor, Smith had a clear, bell-like voice, which made a nice counterpoint to Prima’s raspy boisterousness. She and Prima won a 1959 Grammy for “That Old Black Magic,” and she released countless albums and singles, ranging from show tunes to Lennon/McCartney, pop, swing, and even a 2008 duet with Kid Rock. “I was far from hip and cool. I’m basically a square,” Smith told music critic Joel Selvin in 2008. “I stood there like a dummy,” she said of her persona alongside Prima. “That was no act. That’s bashful. Louis wouldn’t let anyone change me.” As for her longtime friend and mentor Frank Sinatra, “Everyone thought we were having a big romance. We didn’t, but I could kick myself now.”—Eve Golden
Keely Smith, 1928 – 2017
The Grammy-winning jazz and pop singer was 89.