Rudy Vallée was an American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer.
Born Hubert Prior Vallée in Island Pond, Vermont, the son of Charles Alphonse and Catherine Lynch Vallée. Both of his parents were born and raised in Vermont, but their parents were immigrants; the Vallées being of French Canadian origin from neighboring Quebec, while the Lynches were from Ireland. Vallée grew up in Westbrook, Maine.
Having played drums in his high school band, Vallée played clarinet and saxophone in various bands around New England in his youth. In 1917, he decided to enlist for World War I, but was discharged when the Navy authorities found out that he was only 15. He enlisted in Portland, Maine on March 29, 1917, under the false birthdate of July 28, 1899. He was discharged at the Naval Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island, on May 17, 1917 with 41 days of active service. From 1924 through 1925, he played with the Savoy Havana Band at the Savoy Hotel in London, where his fellow band-members discouraged his attempts to become a vocalist. He then returned to the States to obtain a degree in Philosophy from Yale and to form his own band, “Rudy Vallée and the Connecticut Yankees.” With this band, which featured two violins, two saxophones, a piano, a banjo and drums, he started taking vocals. He had a rather thin, wavering tenor voice and seemed more at home singing sweet ballads than attempting vocals on jazz numbers. However, his singing, together with his suave manner and handsome boyish looks, attracted great attention, especially from young women. Vallée was given a recording contract and in 1928, he started performing on the radio.
Vallée became the most prominent and, arguably, the first of a new style of popular singer, the crooner. Previously, popular singers needed strong projecting voices to fill theaters in the days before the electric microphone. Crooners had soft voices that were well suited to the intimacy of the new medium of the radio. Vallée’s trombone-like vocal phrasing on “Deep Night” would inspire later crooners such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como to model their voices on jazz instruments.