For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for The Modernaires.

The Modernaires

The Modernaires
The Modernaires when they were regulars on the CBS radio program Club Fifteen, 1951.
The Modernaires when they were regulars on the CBS radio program Club Fifteen, 1951.
Background information
GenresSwing music, Vocal music
Years active1934 (1934)–1970s
LabelsBluebird Records, Columbia Records, Coral Records, Decca Records, Warner Brothers Records
Past members

The Modernaires were an American vocal group, best known for performing in the 1940s alongside Glenn Miller.


The Modernaires began in 1934 as "Don Juan, Two and Three," a trio of schoolmates from Lafayette High School in Buffalo, New York. The members were Hal Dickinson, Chuck Goldstein, and Bill Conway.[3] (Jay Warner, in his book American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today, wrote, "They called themselves Three Weary Willies".[3]: 49  He added that the trio performed as Don Juan and Two and Three when they "headed for New York in the mid-'30s".[3]: 50 

After singing on radio station WGR in Buffalo, New York, for "the enormous sum of $10 a month", the trio went to New York City and gained an engagement of 26 weeks on CBS network radio.[3]: 50 

The group's first engagement was at Buffalo's suburban Glen Falls Casino, with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra. Fio Rito also used them on electrical transcription recordings. They then joined the Ozzie Nelson Band, and became known as "The Three Wizards of Ozzie." They next recruited Ralph Brewster to make a quartet and, performing with the Fred Waring Orchestra, became The Modern-Aires (later changing the spelling). Recordings with Charlie Barnet's orchestra in 1936 did not interest the public but brought them greater industry exposure, and in 1937 they joined the George Hall band, soon moving on to the Paul Whiteman radio show. They recorded many of the classic songs of that era, a few with Jack Teagarden, as part of the Whiteman orchestra in 1938.

In October 1940, Glenn Miller engaged them to record It's Make Believe Ballroom Time, a sequel to the original Make Believe Ballroom, which they had recorded earlier for Martin Block's big band show of the same name, on WNEW New York. In January 1941, Miller made The Modernaires an important part of one of the most popular big bands of all time. Paula Kelly was added to the Miller band between March–August 1941; she and Modernaire Hal Dickinson had married in 1939. The group had ten chart hits in 1941 after appearing with Miller's orchestra in the movie Sun Valley Serenade. The group became a quintet when Kelly became a permanent member of the group after Miller joined the U.S. Army, and for the next few decades they toured internationally with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Johnny Drake replaced Chuck Goldstein (who left the Modernaires the day after the Miller band broke up in 1942), and Fran Scott replaced Bill Conway (who by fall 1943 was performing with the newly-formed "Double Daters" quartet.[4])

Songs made popular by Miller and The Modernaires included "Perfidia," "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," with Tex Beneke (the first-ever "gold record" with over one million copies sold), "I Know Why," "Elmer's Tune," "Serenade In Blue," "Connecticut," "Jukebox Saturday Night", and "(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo" with Beneke, among others.

In 1945, "There! I've Said It Again" became The Modernaires' first top-twenty hit.

The group was featured in television programming produced by Philco in 1947, using what apparently was an early version of lip synching. An article in 'Variety' magazine's September 10, 1947, issue reported that David Street and The Modernaires guest starred on the Philco program, "simulating singing to off-screen recordings."[5]

After Miller's disappearance, The Modernaires recorded vocal versions of several of Miller's instrumental hits, including "Moonlight Serenade", "Sunrise Serenade", "Little Brown Jug", "Tuxedo Junction", "Pennsylvania 6-5000", and "A String of Pearls". The Modernaires released a 45rpm single on Coral Records, 9-61110, A Salute to Glenn Miller, which included medleys in two parts from the movie soundtrack, A Salute to Glenn Miller, Parts 1 and 2: (I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo/Moonlight Cocktail/Elmer's Tune/Moonlight Serenade/Chattanooga Choo-Choo/String Of Pearls/Serenade In Blue/At Last/Perfidia, that reached number 29 on the Billboard charts in 1954. In the late 1950s they were featured vocalists with the Bob Crosby Orchestra on his daily TV show. In the 1960s they recorded the theme song for the TV sitcom Hazel. Their style, harmonies and blend influenced later artists such as The Four Freshmen, who in turn were models for the Beach Boys, whom the Beatles later cited as a strong influence on their vocal work.[citation needed]

The Modernaires were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.

Deaths of former members


  1. ^ "Well- Known Vocal Quintet Featured in New Musical". Weekly Times. No. 4248. Victoria, Australia. November 22, 1950. p. 55. Retrieved June 3, 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ "MUSIC Glenn Miller tribute". The Canberra Times. Vol. 56, no. 17, 020. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. May 4, 1982. p. 25. Retrieved June 3, 2018 – via National Library of Australia. , ...Also featured will be Paula Kelly, junior, and the Modernaires, today's version of the vocal group...
  3. ^ a b c d Warner, Jay (2006). American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 49–51. ISBN 9780634099786. Retrieved December 15, 2016. Paula Kelly singer.
  4. ^ Kaplan, Ben. "For the Love of Mike." Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch. September 14, 1943.
  5. ^ "Philco's New Coast Tele Shows Offer Welcome Change from Old Ideas". Variety. September 10, 1947. p. 30. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "Obituaries: Harold Dickinson of Modernaires". The San Francisco Examiner. November 19, 1970. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  7. ^ "Charles Goldstein, 59, founder of Modernaires". The Record. August 20, 1974. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  8. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series. Library of Congress. 1953. p. 600.
  9. ^ "Modernaires Male Vocalist is Native St. Paul". The Minneapolis Star. August 14, 1958. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  10. ^ "John Brayman Drake". U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850–2010. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  11. ^ "Deaths Elsewhere". The Sacramento Bee. April 1, 1990. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  12. ^ "Obituary for William G. CONWAY". Los Angeles Times. April 6, 1991. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  13. ^ Folkart, Burt A. (April 4, 1992). "Paula Kelly; Sang With Modernaires, Glenn Miller". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  14. ^ "Fran Schneider Now in Hollywood Singing with "The Modernaires"". The Daily News. May 14, 1946. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  15. ^ "Francis James Schneider [Francis Scott]". U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936–2007. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  16. ^ "Paula Cole Obituary". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ "Alan Copeland, the Modernaires and 'Your Hit Parade' Vocalist, Dies at 96". Billboard.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
The Modernaires
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?