One of the most dynamic personalities in show business, Jaye P. Morgan, has captivated audiences with a myriad of images throughout her long and illustrious career. Jaye P. Morgan first enjoyed tremendous popularity as one of the top female recording artists of the 1950s. Exploding onto the pop music charts in 1955 with five consecutive hit records in one year including “That’s All I Want From You” and “The Longest Walk,” she quickly established herself as a leading entertainer on radio, television, and nightclubs throughout the country.
Jaye P. Morgan’s quick wit and spicy remarks made her an immediate hit with all the talk show legends. During the 1970s, she appeared regularly on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, The Merv Griffin Show, and
The Mike Douglas Show. Her trademark laugh and outrageous sense of humor were best showcased on
The Gong Show where newer audiences delighted in her antics as the resident female celebrity judge.
There was never a time when Jaye P. Morgan was not a performer. Born into a large musical family, she entered the world as Mary Margaret Morgan in Mancos, Colorado on December 3, 1931. She began singing and performing at the age of three with her family vaudeville act, known as “The Morgan Family” which was composed of her father, five brothers, and one sister. The family made its way to California by 1935. The Morgans settled in Los Angeles and performed on radio from Hollywood during the winter months and traveled full time during the summer months playing theaters in all of the western states and Canada. “The Morgan Family featuring little Mary Morgan” performed regularly at the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles and even made an appearance in the 1935 Warner Brothers film, Stars Over Broadway. The death of her father in 1945 ended the original family act as it was known, although the Morgan children continued with their individual musical pursuits.
Featured Band Singer
Mary Morgan returned to performing by the age of 15, singing in the Los Angeles area while attending high school and worked regularly with western swing artist Hank Penny and his group. Some of her earliest recording sessions were with Hank Penny. Duets such as “Makin’ Love Tennessee Style,” “That’s My Weakness Now” and “Fan It” were later released as country-western singles by the pair on the RCA Victor label.
Upon graduating from high school, she was hired by band leader Frank DeVol in 1950 to join his group as the lead female vocalist where she remained through 1953. The Frank DeVol Orchestra with Jaye P. Morgan and The Dream Makers played the big hotels and ballrooms throughout Southern California and performed frequently on radio. Morgan received not only her new professional name of “Jaye P.” with Frank DeVol’s guidance, but also was encouraged by DeVol to further expand her career as a singer and performer. Jaye P. Morgan recorded several songs with Frank DeVol’s Orchestra which were later released on Derby Records beginning in 1953. Jaye P. Morgan’s recordings of “Just a Gigolo” and “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries” on Derby Records brought her early commercial success with the record-buying public and eventually led her to New York on a promotional tour.
New York and the Record Hits
By early 1954, Jaye P. Morgan had landed a regular spot on The Robert Q. Lewis Show, a lively CBS daytime musical-variety program from New York which introduced a national television audience to Morgan’s rich singing voice and wholesome appeal. Later that year, she was also the featured singer on the ABC night-time game show, Stop The Music, hosted by Bert Parks. Jaye P. Morgan signed a recording contract with RCA Victor in 1954, and her very first release, “That’s All I Want From You,” became one of the biggest hits of her career. The song peaked at number three on Billboard’s charts in early 1955 and was quickly followed up by her next hits, “Danger! Heartbreak Ahead,” “Chee Chee-oo Chee” (a smash hit duet with Perry Como), “The Longest Walk,” and “Pepper-Hot Baby.” The annual disc jockey poll in Down Beat magazine voted her “Best New Female Singer of 1954.” In 1955, she was awarded “Best Female Vocalist” by Cash Box magazine and a United Press poll of disc jockeys, and was named “Best New Female Vocalist” by Record Whirl magazine.
Jaye P. Morgan began touring the country extensively with her nightclub act beginning in 1955, making her Las Vegas debut that year at the New Frontier Hotel & Casino. During the glamour days of plush nightclubs,
Jaye P. Morgan headlined in such legendary showrooms as the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles, New York’s Latin Quarter, Chicago’s Palmer House and Chez Paree, Blinstrub’s in Boston, The Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, The Fairmont Hotel’s Venetian Room in San Francisco, and the Eden Roc and Fontainebleau hotels in Miami Beach.