Teresa Brewer R.I.P.
Posted October 18, 2007
Teresa Brewer, 76, a bold-voiced singer whose novelty hit "Music! Music! Music!"
established her as a jukebox favorite in the 1950s and secured her four-decade career
performing in nightclubs and on Las Vegas stages, died Oct. 17 at her home in New
Rochelle, N.Y. She had progressive supranuclear palsy, a brain disorder.
Ms. Brewer was a veteran radio performer at 19, when "Music! Music! Music!" became a
pop-chart smash in 1950 with its bouncy Dixieland-ensemble backup and command to "put
another nickel in, in the nickelodeon."
After a period of similar fare, she won over audiences as a balladeer singing "Till I
Waltz Again With You" (which reportedly sold more than 1.4 million copies), "Let Me Go,
Lover" and "A Sweet Old-Fashioned Girl."
Her voice was startlingly brassy for a 5-foot-2, 100-pound singer, and the disparity
prompted jokes. Referring to a brash nightclub performer, entertainer Bing Crosby joked
that Ms. Brewer was the "Sophie Tucker of the Girl Scouts." Time magazine called Ms.
Brewer "a topnotch singer with a voice somewhere between a blowtorch and a cello."
A striking brunette -- later a blond -- she was cast as a star of the musical western film
"Those Redheads from Seattle" (1953) and was a mainstay of television variety shows for
The advent of rock-and-roll diminished her front-rank popularity. She began covering
rhythm-and-blues hits first recorded by black singers ("Tweedle Dee," "You Send Me") as
well as a series of country and western records ("Jilted," "Have You Ever Been Lonely").
Theresa Veronica Breuer was born May 7, 1931, in Toledo. At her mother's urging, she began
singing at talent competitions, and from 1938 to 1943, she made regular appearances on the
"Major Bowes Amateur Hour" radio program.
She quit high school before graduation to focus on her career and changed the spelling of
her name after arriving in New York in 1948. She said her breakthrough came while singing
at the Sawdust Trail club near Manhattan's Times Square, after an agent overheard her
voice coming from a sidewalk speaker placed by the club manager.
She described herself as typecast in sugary, upbeat songs like "Choo'n Gum" that tried to
duplicate her first success. "That was my ootsy-poo period," she later said. "They were
hits, but they should have been children's recordings."
After making "Those Redheads from Seattle," Ms. Brewer, who was married and would have
four children, turned down other movie offers because of the demands of her growing
family. She focused on television instead, working with singer Mel Torme on the CBS musical
series "Summertime USA" (1953), set at resorts from Havana to Atlantic City. She also was
a guest singer on the Ed Sullivan, Perry Como and Arthur Godfrey variety shows and
performed at New York's Latin Quarter, Chicago's Palmer House, Las Vegas' Sahara Hotel and
A versatile singer, she spent the last several decades alternating among many genres.
She accompanied Count Basie's big band for a 1973 album of blues songs popularized by
Bessie Smith. Her 1982 album, "Teresa Brewer in London," included a rock version of
"Music! Music! Music!"
She was credited as co-author of several songs, including "I Love Mickey," a novelty tune
she recorded with New York Yankees center-fielder Mickey Mantle in 1956.
Her first marriage, to William Monahan, ended in divorce. Thiele, whom she married in
1972, died in 1996.
Survivors include four children from her first marriage, Kathleen Monahan-Granzen of Rye
Brook, N.Y., Susan M. Dorot of White Plains, N.Y., Megan Ahearn of Port Chester, N.Y., and
Michelle McCann of New Rochelle; a stepson, Bob Thiele Jr. of California; a brother; four
grandsons; and five great-grandchildren.
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