Imogene Lynn

Photo of Imogene Lynn
  • Birth Name

    Imogene Lucille Jobe
  • Born

    September 9, 1922
    Trenton, Missouri
  • Died

    February 24, 2003 (age 80)
    Lancaster, California
  • Vocal Groups

    The Merry Macs
    The Smart Set
    The Starlighters
  • Orchestras

    Ted Fio Rito
    Emerson Gill
    Art Jarrett
    Eddie La Baron
    Ray McKinley
    Artie Shaw
    Freddie Slack

Vocalist Imogene Lynn sang with Midwest orchestras in the early 1940s before breaking out onto the national stage with Ray McKinley’s band in 1942. She later sang with Artie Shaw before switching to group work in the late 1940s. Lynn also worked in Hollywood and as a backing vocalist for other popular singers. She disappeared in the late 1950s, when she possibly retired to raise a family.

Lynn grew up in rural Trenton, Missouri, moving with her family to Bowling Green, Ohio, in the late 1930s.[1] She began her career singing in society orchestras. In early 1941, she was a member of Emerson Gill’s territorial band, which operated in the Michigan and Ohio area, and in mid-1941 she was part of Eddie La Baron’s outfit in the Upper Midwest. She also sang with Ted Fio Rito.

Lynn was with Art Jarrett’s orchestra in early 1942 when Ray McKinley hired her for his new group, which debuted on April 21 at the Hotel Commodore in New York. With McKinley, she made her first recordings and began to attract national attention. By the end of the year, though, McKinley felt the draft sneaking up on him, and he and most of his musicians decided to enlist in the Marines together as a non-combative unit. They played their last civilian engagement on December 6 before disbanding. When the attempt to enlist as a unit was denied, many of the men joined other branches of the service. Lynn had become involved with McKinley clarinetist Mahlon Clark, who ended up in the Merchant Marines stationed on Catalina Island, where he became part of a band led by Phil Harris. He and Lynn married on December 11, and she moved to the island with her husband.

After her marriage, Lynn kept working, appearing on her own sustaining program on NBC from at least December 1942 to July 1943, and in September she became vocalist for the Dale Jones Sextette at the Palladium in Los Angeles, leaving in December 1943 to go back to Catalina. She appeared as a guest on Bob Crosby’s radio show that same month.

In January 1944, Lynn teamed up with Jill Winkler, the widow of Otto Winkler, Clark Gable’s press agent, who had died in the same plane crash that had killed actress Carole Lombard two years earlier. Winkler had decided to enter the management business, and Lynn was her first client. Winkler changed Lynn’s name to Gene Clark and arranged a screen test with 20th Century Fox. By April, however, Lynn was back to using her old name and had joined Freddie Slack’s orchestra, staying until October when Artie Shaw hired her for his new band.

In October 1945, a controversy erupted involving Shaw and Lynn’s husband. Clark, fresh out of the Merchant Marines, joined Paul Martin’s orchestra, which was alternating with Shaw’s band at the Meadowbrook in Los Angeles. Clark played only one night with Martin before being fired, and his dismissal caused a furor among local musicians. He was one of the top clarinetists, rivaling Shaw, and rumors had both Shaw and booking company MCA involved in the firing. Both MCA and club management had told Martin to get rid of Clark. Neither wanted two featured clarinetists on the same bill.

Despite the controversy, Lynn remained with Shaw until he disbanded in November. In August 1946, she become the new female member of the Merry Macs vocal quartet, replacing Virginia Rees. She left the Merry Macs in July 1947 to join the Smart Set vocal group. In 1949, she became a member of the Starlighters.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Lynn worked in Hollywood, dubbing vocals for films and animated shorts. She most famously provided the singing voice of the title character in the 1943 Tex Avery cartoon Red Hot Riding Hood. During her career, Lynn worked as a back-up vocalist for such artists as Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Jo Stafford.

Lynn and Clark had one child, a son, in 1957 and divorced at some point prior to 1972, when she married James Freeland in Las Vegas. She and Freeland divorced in 1974. In 1978, Lynn married Philip Healy in California. Healy was nine years her junior. Imogene Lynn passed away from respiratory and renal cancer in 2003 at age 80.


  1. There is some uncertainty about Lynn’s early life. On the 1940 census, she appears living with her mother in Ohio, the oldest of seven children, however neither she nor her oldest brother appear on the 1930 census, which shows her father, mother, and her oldest sister living with her grandparents in Missouri. Her other siblings were not born until after 1930. Her parents had divorced by the 1940 census. ↩︎


  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. “Imogene Lynn.” IMDb. Accessed 20 May 2022.
  3. “At The Theaters.” The Sandusky Star-Journal 1 Feb. 1941: 2.
  4. “Grabbing a Breath of Air.” Down Beat 15 Jul. 1941: 28.
  5. Steinhauser, Si. “Top Radio Band Boss Adds Fame.” The Pittsburgh Press 4 Feb. 1942: 11.
  6. “McKinley Shapes Up Band.” Down Beat 15 Mar. 1942: 5.
  7. “On the Stand: Ray McKinley.” Billboard 2 May 1942: 20.
  8. “—and Who's the Gate Behind the Phone?” Down Beat 1 May 1942: 1.
  9. “McKinley Band Bows in Gotham.” Down Beat 1 May 1942: 1.
  10. “McKinley Has Tuba, and Band That Comes On.” Down Beat 15 May 1942: 2.
  11. “McKinley Band Joins Marines.” Down Beat 1 Jan. 1943: 1.
  12. “Marine Chiefs Nix McKinley Deal for Band.” Down Beat 15 Jan. 1943: 7.
  13. “Imogene Weds.” Down Beat 15 Jan. 1943: 11.
  14. “On the Records: Ray McKinley.” Billboard 6 Feb. 1943: 22.
  15. “Radio Features.” The Lowell Sun [Lowell, Massachusetts] 10 Jul. 1943: 7.
  16. “Ben Pollack Opens Office As Manager.” Billboard 15 Sep. 1943: 5.
  17. “Reviews: Dale Jones Sextette.” Billboard 27 Nov. 1943: 25.
  18. “What's on the Air.” Wisconsin State Journal [Madison, Wisconsin] 12 Dec. 1943: 30.
  19. “Los Angeles Band Briefs.” Down Beat 15 Jan. 1944: 6.
  20. Parson, Louella. “Louella Parsons in Hollywood.” The Cedar Rapids Gazette 8 Feb. 1944: 11.
  21. Manners, Dian. “Men, Maids & Manners.” Down Beat 1 Mar. 1944: 7.
  22. “Vaudeville Reviews: Orpheum, Los Angeles.” Billboard 22 Apr. 1944: 27,32.
  23. “On the Stand: Freddie Slack.” Billboard 26 Aug. 1944: 15.
  24. “Vaudeville Reviews: RKO-Boston, Boston.” Billboard 16 Sep. 1944: 26.
  25. “Artie Shaw's Band on 52-Week Basis.” Billboard 4 Nov. 1944: 21.
  26. “Shaw Sets Band Lineup.” Down Beat 15 Nov. 1944: 1.
  27. “Bands Dug by the Beat: Artie Shaw.” Down Beat 15 Feb. 1945: 12.
  28. “TD, Shaw Search For New Singers.” Down Beat 1 Aug. 1945: 6.
  29. “Eldridge Out of Artie Shaw Ork.” Down Beat 15 Oct. 1945: 1.
  30. “Mahlon Clark Is Fired—Too Good For Shaw, MCA?” Down Beat 1 Nov. 1945: 6.
  31. “Artie Shaw Will Retire Again To Take It Easy.” Down Beat 15 Nov. 1945: 1.
  32. “Imogene Lynn Goes With Merry Macs.” Down Beat 28 Aug. 1946: 7.
  33. “Imogene Lynn Joins The Merry Macs Vocal Group.” Down Beat 23 Sep. 1946: 3.
  34. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 12 Oct. 1946: 31.
  35. “Music as Written.” Billboard 26 Jul. 1947: 36.
  36. “Clarinetist Known for His Work on Soundtrack Dies.” Wilmington Star-News [Wilmington, NC] 4 Oct. 2007: 3B.
  37. “United States Census, 1930,” FamilySearch ( : Sat Mar 09 21:50:52 UTC 2024), Entry for C O Jobe and Hattie Jobe, 1930.
  38. “United States Census, 1940,” FamilySearch ( : Sat Mar 09 05:42:11 UTC 2024), Entry for Mary A Jobe and Imogene L Jobe, 1940.
  39. “California, County Marriages, 1850-1953,” FamilySearch ( : Sat Mar 09 13:54:55 UTC 2024), Entry for Mahlon Bryan Clark and Imogene Lynn Jobe, 11 December 1942.
  40. “California Birth Index, 1905-1995,” FamilySearch ( : 27 November 2014), Jobe in entry for Kevin B Clark, 11 Jan 1957; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.
  41. “Nevada Marriage Index, 1956-2005,” database, FamilySearch ( : 20 September 2019), James Edward Freeland and Imogene L Clark, 6.
  42. “California Divorce Index, 1966-1984,” database, FamilySearch ( : 15 May 2014), Imogene L Jobe and James E Freeland, Mar 1974; from “California Divorce Index, 1966-1984,” database and images, Ancestry ( : 2007); citing Santa Barbara, California, Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento.
  43. “California Marriage Index, 1960-1985,” database, FamilySearch ( : 26 January 2024), Imogene L Jobe in entry for Philip W Healey, 1978.
  44. “United States, Social Security Numerical Identification Files (NUMIDENT), 1936-2007,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2023), Imogene Lucille Jobe.