Kay Allen

aka Cathy Allen

Photo of Kay Allen
  • Birth Name

    Catherine Eleuterio (also spelled Lentrio or Elentrio)
  • Born

    February 14, 1918
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Died

    September 1994 (age 76)
    Miami, Florida
  • Orchestras

    Lou Breese
    Randy Brooks
    Al Donahue
    Joe Frasetto
    Enoch Light
    Carlos Molina
    Red Norvo
    Jimmy Palmer
    Louis Prima
    Joe Reichman
    Justin Stone
    Jerry Wald

Vocalist Kay Allen, later known as Cathy Allen, sang with a variety of bands during the 1940s. The daughter of Italian immigrants, Allen got her start, as did several band singers, on the Horn and Hardart’s Children’s Hour program on WCAU in Philadelphia. In 1940, she was singing with Al Donahue’s band when she joined Joe Frasetto’s orchestra at WIP in Philadelphia. By the first of 1941, she was with Joe Reichman, moving to Enoch Light’s band by mid-year, where she played on the group’s baseball team. In late 1941 she joined Red Norvo’s new orchestra, possibly staying until summer 1942 when Norvo disbanded. By August 1942, she was with Lou Breese, remaining as part of his group when he pared down to ten pieces and settled in as the house band at the Chez Paree night club in Chicago, where she also worked the floor show.

At some point, Allen married a man by the name of Zappasodi. The couple divorced in April 1943. Allen stayed with Breese until at least late 1943. By early 1944, though, she was singing for Carlos Molina’s Latin orchestra, leaving the group around the first of March. She then spent time with Justin Stone’s 10-piece band at the 400 Club in New York before apparently rejoining Molina. She left Molina again in April and sang with Jimmy Palmer, her former fellow chirp with Breese who had taken over Gracie Barrie’s band, but was back with Molina again in May.

By January 1945, likely as early as October or November 1944, Allen had joined Jerry Wald’s band, remaining with the clarinet player through early 1946 and recording several songs with the group. While with Wald’s orchestra, she fell in love with fellow singer Dick Merrick, and the two became engaged in November 1945. They married in late 1946.[1] Both she and Merrick had left Wald by March of that year. Allen joined Claude Thornhill’s new group that month but left before it debuted in late May. In August, she became singer for Randy Brooks, where she stayed through at least October.

Around the time of her marriage, Allen changed her professional name to Cathy. A Hollywood contract was supposedly secured just before she and Merrick tied the knot, but nothing ever came of it. By as early as November 1946 but no later than March 1947 she had joined Louis Prima, staying and recording with the bandleader until at least April 1948 when she announced her departure in expectation of the birth of her first child, who was born in September.

After leaving Prima, Allen settled back in Philadelphia with her husband, where she began to sing in local nightclubs and appear on local television, having a regular spot on WPTZ’s The Girl Next Door. She and Merrick recorded together on the Admiral label in 1949.

In 1952, Allen became singer for Charlie Ventura’s band at his Open House club in nearby Lindenwald, New Jersey. In April 1954, she was working as a DJ on WPEN, singing as well as spinning records on her own Sunday night program. In 1962, she and Merrick settled in Florida. Kay Allen passed away in 1994 at age 76.

Notes

  1. Merrick and Allen applied for a marriage license in Philadelphia on November 30, 1946. On the application, Allen made herself four years younger, listing her birth year as 1922 when it was actually 1918. The couple married on December 3. ↩︎

Sources

  1. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 28 Sep. 1940: 10.
  2. “Enoch Light Ball Team Whips McGee's.” Down Beat 1 Jul. 1941: 5.
  3. “Weird Is the Word For Newst Norvo Ork, His Largest.” Down Beat 1 Jan. 1942: 1.
  4. “Vaudeville Reviews: Oriental, Chicago.” Billboard 4 Apr. 1942: 18.
  5. “Vaudeville Reviews: Colonial, Dayton, O.” Billboard 2 May 1942: 36.
  6. “Fulcher Leaves... With Sideman.” Billboard 1 Sep. 1942: 19.
  7. “On the Stage.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 5 Sep. 1942: 12.
  8. “Night Club Reviews: Chez Paree, Chicago.” Billboard 14 Nov. 1942: 12.
  9. “On the Air: Lou Breese.” Billboard 30 Jan. 1943: 22.
  10. “Chez Lovely.” Billboard 1 May 1943: 5.
  11. “Night Club Reviews: Chez Paree, Chicago.” Billboard 26 Jun. 1943: 15.
  12. “Night Club Reviews: Chez Paree, Chicago.” Billboard 21 Aug. 1943: 20.
  13. “Kids' Show Discloses Fine Musical Talent.” Down Beat 1 Mar. 1944: 2.
  14. “Molina Looking for Thrush.” Billboard 11 Mar. 1944: 16.
  15. “Strictly Ad Lib.” Down Beat 1 Apr. 1944: 5.
  16. “Norfolk Spots Palmer.” Down Beat 15 Apr. 1944: 10.
  17. “From Kay to Kay.” Billboard 29 Apr. 1944: 15.
  18. “Music Grapevine.” Billboard 20 May 1944: 14.
  19. “Strictly Ad Lib.” Down Beat 1 Jun. 1944: 5.
  20. “Strictly Ad Lib.” Down Beat 15 Jan. 1945: 5.
  21. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 5 May 1945: 23.
  22. “Strictly Ad Lib.” Down Beat 1 Dec. 1945: 1.
  23. “New Wald Chirp.” Billboard 25 Mar. 1946: 2.
  24. “Music As Written.” Billboard 20 Apr. 1946: 26.
  25. “Music As Written.” Billboard 4 May 1946: 21.
  26. “400 Reopens With Three Orks.” Down Beat 9 Sep. 1946: 1.
  27. Wilson, Earl. “Feet Edson Tells of Good Old Days.” The Miami News 16 Oct. 1946: 11B.
  28. “Randy's Chirp.” Down Beat 4 Nov. 1946: 5.
  29. “Girl Singer (With Band).” Down Beat 18 Dec. 1946: 21.
  30. “Vaudeville Reviews: Strand, New York.” Billboard 15 Mar. 1947: 38.
  31. “Music As Written.” Billboard 26 Apr. 1947: 23.
  32. “Strictly Ad Lib.” Down Beat 7 Apr. 1948: 5.
  33. “Music As Written.” Billboard 9 Oct. 1948: 25.
  34. “Things to Come.” Down Beat 21 Oct. 1949: 11.
  35. “Music As Written.” Billboard 22 Oct. 1949: 18.
  36. “Music As Written.” Billboard 18 Feb. 1950: 45.
  37. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 3 Jun. 1950: 117.
  38. “Brookhauser Does a Solid Philadelphia Ed Sullivan.” Billboard 17 Feb. 1951: 8.
  39. “Music As Written.” Billboard 27 Dec. 1952: 15.
  40. “Music As Written.” Billboard 3 Apr. 1954: 38.
  41. “United States Census, 1920,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXSJ-CP9 : Thu Dec 07 21:14:49 UTC 2023), Entry for Miachael Lentrio and Catherine Lentrio, 1920.
  42. “United States Census, 1930,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHWK-GHT : Fri Oct 06 04:43:33 UTC 2023), Entry for Alphonse Elentrio and Teresa Elentrio, 1930.
  43. “Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q28G-1F6H : Sun Oct 15 16:53:58 UTC 2023), Entry for Louis A Ricciardi and Chatherine M Elenteis Elentrio Zappasodi, 30 Nov 1946.
  44. “Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q28G-18DT : Sun Oct 15 15:50:58 UTC 2023), Entry for Louis A Ricciardi and Catherine M Elentrio Zappasodi, 3 Dec 1946.