member of The Skylarks, a vocal group whose career spanned nearly four
decades in various incarnations.
When she joined them in the 1940s, they were still known as The
Velvetones. Gilda had
connections and the group went from relative obscurity to regular
appearances on the radio in concert with the Don Large Chorus.
Being on the
radio was a good way to audition without having to audition, and they were
soon contracted by Woody Herman to perform with his big band. They changed their name to The Blue
Moods and laid down a recording of “Stars Fell on Alabama” in
the summer of 1946 and went on a nation-wide tour. It did not bode well for Herman, who
saw his band dissolve in the Big Apple, but The Blue Moods carried on,
recording with Bing Crosby and Jimmy Dorsey and changing their name to a
moniker that would finally stick, The Skylarks.
wooed them to sunny L.A. and their services were soon employed by Harry
James, and Russ Morgan, a trombonist with whom they would record the
chart-topping “Cruisin’ Down the River”, which sold over
one million copies, and “Forever and Ever”, which spent half a
year on the charts and cruised down the river to #1. The group inked a deal with RCA in
the 1950s and charted again with “I Had the Craziest
The advent of
television afforded them more opportunities to strut their stuff, on such
family friendly fare as The Carol
Burnett Show, Judge for Yourself,
and Sonny & Cher. They called it quits in 1979 after a
final performance in the Hollywood Palladium. That same year, Gilda appeared on
Frank Sinatra’s boxed set, Trilogy.
later, Gilda, along with Virginia Mancini, co-founded the Society of
Singers, a non-profit group dedicated to helping out their fellow singers
in matters financial. She also
went on to become an agent.
and groups with whom Gilda performed, with and without The Skylarks,
include Duane Eddy, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Merry Macs.
the singing voice of Stella Stevens in the 1962 Elvis Presley musical, Girls! Girls! Girls! and can also be heard on
the soundtracks of Breakfast at
Tiffany’s (“Moon River”, anyone?) and The Young Girls of Rochefort.