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    Ward, Jackie

    Career session singer who was born into a musical (and military) family in Hawaii, where her dad served in the Navy.  They eventually moved to Nebraska, where Jackie and her two sisters sang in church, eventually dubbing themselves The McDonnell Sisters and winning a national talent competition in Yangton, South Dakota.  So impressed were their parents that they pulled up stakes and moved to L.A.  Jackie was still in school when she and her sisters were hired to sing on the TV program, Bandstand Revue.  It was a gig that lasted around four years. 


    The Sisters eventually disbanded, but Jackie decided she wanted to pursue music.  Unfortunately, she could not sight-read music, so she enrolled in City College to study it.  It turned out to be a good move.  One of her early breaks was being recruited for The Red Skelton Show.  This led to other opportunities, like The Carol Burnett Show and The Danny Kaye Show.  While working with Red Skelton, Jackie won an acting role in the television movie of Cinderella, the Rodgers & Hammerstein version starring Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon. 


    Meanwhile, her session career took off.  She found herself singing with Joan Baez, Pat Boone (she is the voice of the infamous rodent, “Speedy Gonzales”), The Carpenters, Mama Cass, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Jimmie Rodgers, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand. 


    Television work continued to roll in, as well:  Jackie can be heard on the theme songs of Batman, Flipper, Love, American Style, and Maude, which also featured a young Donny Hathaway.  Hoyt Curtin hired Jackie to do the singing voice of Cindy Bear in the animated feature film, Hey There!  It’s Yogi Bear! 


    Jackie’s versatile voice led to the recording of her first solo album, Wonderful Summer.  The title track cracked the top ten in 1963.  It was a bit of a novelty record, as Jackie billed herself as Robin Ward (her daughter’s name) and did a voice:  The gimmick was that she could make herself sound like a teen pop singer.  Of course, there was no way to actually go out and promote the album, and Jackie soon found herself deluged with teen fan mail. 


    She had also made herself valuable to studios with her bendable voice, and movie work followed:  Twice she dubbed the singing voice of Natalie Wood, in The Great Race and Inside Daisy Clover.  In the latter, her director actually told her that her singing was too good—the film is about an up-and-coming singer—and she had to do another take and essentially dumb down her singing.  That’s right:  Jackie can even sing badly if need be.  She also dubbed Janet Leigh’s singing voice in American Dream, and was part of the chorus on Grease and Hair. 


    Television beckoned again in the form of another gimmicky TV show, The Partridge Family, a manufactured group of family singers loosely based on The Cowsills.  When you listen to a Partridge Family record, or watch the TV show, chances are you are hearing David Cassidy plus Jackie Ward and three tenors. 


    At the same time, she was moonlighting with The Anita Kerr Singers.  Their a cappella song “A House is Not a Home” took home The Grand Gala Award in 1971.  (The Grand Gala Awards are roughly the equivalent of the NARAS Awards in the States, and take place annually in Holland.) 


    One of Jackie’s most famous turns was as the voice on the famous Rice-A-Roni commercials.  She also did several tours of duty on The Sonny & Cher Show, and it led to work on their albums.  Recently, and ironically, she teamed up with David Cassidy to lend her backing vocals to made-for-TV movie, The David Cassidy Story. 


    Jackie has served on AFTRA’s National Board of Directors and chairs the AFTRA/SAG Federal Credit Union’s Board of Directors.  Her Greatest Hits were released in 1988.



    1. http://www.cmongethappy.com/interviews/jw/index.html
    2. http://www.cmongethappy.com/interviews/jw/jward2.html
    3. http://www.cmongethappy.com/interviews/jw/jward3.html











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