Grahame N's Web Pages


THE ORIGINAL AMERICAN BLONDE BOMBSHELL
EVELYN DALL
by Grahame L. Newnham B.Sc.




(Rare photos taken Feb1945 during TV demo to Commonwealth Broadcasting Council, London)

An American nightclub singer, born New York City January 8th 1918 (although her mum used 1916 and lied about her daughter's age so that Evelyn could appear in a club at Monte Carlo). Now that she has sadly died (10 March 2010), we can safely reveal that her real name was Evelyn Mildred Fuss - this and her later married name and location were under wraps to avoid a rather persistent fan.

We read in a 1940's interview that although her parents were not involved with the stage (her dad had been a postal clerk) "it all started when I (Evelyn) developed into one of those pesky little kids that will stand up and sing, though no one wants to hear them". To get rid of some of her surplus energy, she went, whilst still a child, into a knockabout stage act called Fields, Martin and Dall - herself and two boys: "I hit them and they hit me. Folks liked that kind of thing then. I didn't find it so hot though. After six weeks I was so black and blue I had to quit".

She joined the Ambrose Orchestra as a vocalist in 1935, making her debut at a Sunday concert in Blackpool on 11th August. As Billy Amstell recounts "she was a lovely, very attractive girl, with a beautiful face and fair hair and a lovely figure. When she ran on stage her boobs bounced up and down and wrong notes kept coming from the band. Ambrose couldn't make out what was going on. She must have been one of the first females to appear on stage without a bra - the boys in the band were taking their eyes off the music to look at her. Ambrose introduced Evelyn with "South American Joe", and at the end we had never had such applause. Audiences everywhere warmed to her breezy personality and simply loved her whenever she appeared".


New York World Telegram Monday May 20th 1935
Evelyn Dall to open tonight in "Parade" at the Guild Theatre,
photographed attired (or unattired) for a "Vanities" show.

An extract from the Birkenhead Advertiser 31st August 1935:- "Mailbag heavier than usual this week ..... What's the reason? Anxious enquiries from listeners as to who is Evelyn Dall, Ambrose's new singer, who has taken the country by storm.

I happen to be one of the lucky ones who has seen Evelyn. She was dining one night over in Liverpool at a table near to mine. I met her shortly after that. She is really lovely to look at. A platinum blonde with the most expressive blue eyes I have ever seen, and a personality most intriguing - that's Evelyn. She dances as well as she sings. The amount of energy that's packed into her small body is amazing.

She has never sung with a dance band before, but Ambrose remembered seeing her over in the States when he was there recently. Elsie Carlisle was unable to tour with the band owing to previous commitments, so Ambrose immediately cabled to Evelyn to come over and join him ..... And that is not a fairy story, but exactly how Evelyn got the biggest break of her life".

It is not commonly known that Evelyn Dall was married soon after she came to the UK. It was a marriage of convenience, to enable her to stay in the UK and probably also to help cover her affair with bandleader Bert Ambrose. In private life Evelyn was actually Mrs Holmes, wife of Albert Ernest Holmes, the manager of Ambrose's band - presumably this marriage must have been dissolved some time in the late 1930's or early 1940's. Certainly by 1944 when Mr Holmes married again for the right reasons this time!


Evelyn & Ambrose in 1936 (thanks Dave Cooper!)

Bert Ambrose had spotted her when she did cabaret at the Dorchester some years before, and later brought her over from the States when Elsie Carlisle went off on tour with Sam Browne. At concerts in the thirties, this lively, vivacious blonde caused a stir with the boys, making girl friends jealous! (Her popularity with the fellows was probably because she often wore flimsy dresses with little or nothing on underneath!)

The billing for some of the later Moss Empire tours was "The Ambrose Orchestra conducted by Evelyn Dall". Ambrose himself would not appear on stage, sometimes fullfilling contracts elsewhere, or just standing at the side of the stage or out front. Seems Ambrose realised that the fellas in the audience would prefer to see her bottom wriggling about rather than his coat tails! It was common knowledge that Evelyn and Bert Ambrose, in current parlance "were an item". It is said that Evelyn eventually returned to America because Bert was unable to marry her (I have been told he was married with three children at the time!). She features on many Ambrose Decca recordings, going solo after 1940.


Evelyn Dall singing with Ambrose and his Orchestra - photo thanks to Dave Bennett (added Mar2017)

Evelyn Dall also appeared in a number of British variety films of the 30's and 40's, often with Ambrose. Arthur Askey's leading lady in a couple of films and a London West-End show; he describes her in his autobiography as "the original American blonde bombshell, a real dolly girl she was too". By the 1940's she had become more of a comedienne than just a singer and she now became a film and stage actress rather than just a featured singer.

USEFUL BOOK REFERENCES

"Before Your Very Eyes" - Arthur Askey
Woburn Press ISBN 07130 01348 (Pages 128,129,140)

"Talking Swing - The British Big Bands" - Sheila Tracy 1997
Mainstream Publishing ISBN 1 85158 963 5 (Pages 15,18,19,20)

"Don't Fuss Mr Ambrose" - Billy Amstell

RECORDINGS

  Matrix      Title                                     Record number    Record Date 
GB-7424-1   "Mrs Worthington" ............................. F.5698 ....... 25/09/35
GB-7426-1   "Cohen the Crooner" ........................... F.5698 ....... 25/09/35
GB-7427-1  +"Lulu's Back in Town".......................... F.5706 ....... 25/09/35
TB-1973-2  +"The General's Fast Asleep".................... F.5742 ....... 12/10/35
TB-2024-1  ?"The Lady in Red".............................. F.5779 ....... 05/11/35
GB-7614-2 !$"Wotcha Gotcha Trombone For?".................. F.5903 ....... 16/01/36
GB-7730-1  #"Woe Is Me" (with Jack Cooper)................. F.5933 ....... 20/03/36
TB-2222-1  *"Cuban Pete"................................... F.5994 ....... 10/06/36
TB-2223-1  #"I'm All In"................................... F.5993 ....... 10/06/36
TB-2224-2  #"Lost My Rhythm,Lost My Music,Lost My Man" .... F.5993 ....... 10/06/36
TB-2550-2+*$"Organ Grinder's Swing"................F.6141 & F.7203 ....... 14/10/36
TB-2683-1  $"Did You Mean It?"............................. F.6226 ....... 03/12/36
TB-2807-1   "On the Isle of Kitchymiboko".................. F.6327 ....... 03/02/37
TB-2943-1  #"Swing Is In the Air".......................... F.6387 ....... 24/03/37
TB-2944-1  ="Sailor, Where Art Thou?"...................... F.6374 ....... 24/03/37
TB-2976-1  ="I May Be Poor, But I'm Honest" ............... F.6370 ....... 03/04/37
TB-2977-1 o="Rhythm's O.K. In Harlem"...................... F.6370 ....... 03/04/37
TB-3020-1   "Gangway" ..................................... F.6473 ....... 28/04/37
TB-3057-2   "Swing High, Swing Low"........................ F.6400 ....... 14/05/37
TB-3103-1   "Poor Robinson Crusoe"......................... F.6424 ........18/06/37
TB-3105-2  #"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off"............... F.6425 ....... 18/06/37
TB-3112-1  ="Fifty Million Robins Can't Be Wrong".......... F.6433 ....... 18/06/37
DTB-3318-1 *"It's the Natural Thing To Do"................. F.6521 ....... 26/10/37
n.b. The year gap (1937-1938) in recording dates was caused by a
     dispute between Bert Ambrose and Decca over payments! 
DR-2993-1 =+"Says My Heart"................................ F.6834 ....... 14/10/38
DR-3012-1   "Joseph! Joseph!".............................. F.6856 ....... 27/10/38
DR-3216-1  ?"I Got Love"................................... F.6925 ....... 13/01/39
DR-3431-1   "Hold Tight - Hold Tight" ..................... F.7026 ....... 27/03/39
DR-3430-1 &#"Jeepers Creepers" ............................ F.7026 ....... 27/03/39
DR-3614-1  #"Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Poo.......... F.7077 ....... 07/06/39
DR-3615-1  #"Beer Barrel Polka"............................ F.7077 ....... 07/06/39
DR-3670-1-2 "Follow My Footsteps" (Rejected) ............................. 07/06/39
DR-3682-1  o"Ain'tcha Comin' Out?"......................... F.7107 ....... 17/06/39
DR-4018-1  &"An Apple For the Teacher"..................... F.7291 ....... 10/11/39
DR-4021-1  %"My Heart Belongs To Daddy".................... F.7293 ....... 10/11/39
DR-4103-1  +"Gullivers Travels 1" (selection featuring Evelyn Dall on
              one number: "Bluebirds In the Moonlight"..... F.7325 ....... 08/12/39
DR-4304-1 @$"Mr. Jones, Are You Coming To Bed"(w.Orch) .... F.7410 ....... ??/??/40
DR-4303-1  $"My Wubba Dolly" ('with orchestra') ........... F.7410 ....... ??/??/40
DR-4375-1   "Pinocchio Selection" (featuring Evelyn Dall on one
              number: ... "I've Got No Strings" ........... F.7421 ....... 05/03/40
DR-4818-1  #"No Mamma No!"................................. F.7539 ....... 25/06/40
            "Love You Already Know, But I'm Enlarging On It Slightly"
DR-8360-1 "@"Hey! Good Lookin" (Orch: Art Strauss) ........ F.8429 ....... 16/04/44
DR-8359-1 " "Something For the Boys"(Orch:Art Strauss) .... F.8429 ....... 16/04/44
DR-9851-2  +"I Wanna Get Married"Pt1 (Orch: Phil Green).... F.8587 ....... 23/11/45
DR-9852-2  +"I Wanna Get Married"Pt2 (Orch: Phil Green).... F.8587 ....... 23/11/45

* Tracks included in "Midnight In Mayfair" Saville SVL207 CD/Cassette
= Included in "Ambrose" ASV CD AJA 5066
! Included in "Ambrose & his Orchestra" Flapper CD 7055
? Included in "Ambrose Vol.2 - Power House" Vocalion CD CDEA 6011
o Included in "Ambrose Vol.8 - The Decca Years - Serenade" Vocalion CD CDEA 6108
& Included in "Great British Dance Bands" Pulse 4CD set PBX CD 422
$ Included in "Great British Dance Bands & Their Vocalists" Pulse 4CD set PBX CD 447
" Included in "Stars of British Stage & Screen" Vocalion CD CDEA 6100
@ Included in "Hits Of The Forties Vol.3" Decca Cassette KRFLD 18
# Included in "Swing Is In The Air" Decca LP RFL35
% Included in "Ambrose Tribute to Cole Porter" Decca Ace of Clubs LP ACL1186
+ Original 78's in GLN collection

[I have compiled a C90 cassette of most of these recordings - private use only - 3.50 - contact me at:-
presto @ pathefilm.uk (ignore spaces for actual e-mail address)]




Evelyn judging a 'Clippie' contest around 1936


Evelyn goes swimming around 1945


Second 'page' of Evelyn Dall data: EVELYN2 or return to MAIN MENU


First published:20Mar2000 ..... Updated:24 March 2017 ..... musevelyn1.htm ..... MM G.L. Newnham
New photos, information direct from her nephew Don in the USA - posted 7Jan2005 - many thanks!
Final Decca recording session - exact day supplied by Tony Middleton - posted 14Dec2006 many thanks!)
Original married name and extra details of her "convenience husband" - thanks Martin Holmes Jan2010
Sadly Evelyn's death enables a few additions - real name etc. May2010
10Mar2017 - extra photo of Evelyn Dall with Ambrose Orchestra added