Here’s ONE of the songs on our play list – The Honor Roll of Hits
Norma Jean Speranza lost her mother when she was only four years old. She grew up in Avonmore, Pennsylvania where her father worked in the coal mines. She entered a local Lion’s club talent contest which resulted in her own radio show. By the age of 14, she was appearing nightly, seven nights a week, earning $5.00 a night.
By the time she hit 17, Norma Jean was a local celebrity. She made a demo tape (no accompaniment other than passing trains) and somehow it reached Mitch Miller of Columbia records. He listened and was so impressed he invited her to New York.
How’s this for a “good day”? She arrived at Columbia Records, and auditioned for Mitch Miller and was signed on the spot. Miller then contacted LIFE magazine, and set up auditions for Dave Garroway and Arthur Godfrey who met with her immediately. Before she left to return home, the signing of the contracts were re-enacted for LIFE photographers. Norma Jean then flew home that night.
The next day brought calls from both Garroway and Godfrey. Norma Jean chose Garroway and appeared on his TV show for nine months.
It was Garroway who picked the name Jill Corey out of a telephone book to be Norma Jean’s “professional” name. Within six weeks of her signing, the LIFE cover came out and suddenly Jill Corey appeared to be everywhere.
After Garroway, there was the Robert Q. Lewis show, Ed Sullivan appearances and nine months as the lead singer for a little known California based show hosted by an unknown by the name of Johnny Carson. She headlined a show at the Copacabana, Las Vegas and even had her own syndicated radio and television shows. She was the lead singer for the last year of “Your Hit Parade” and even starred in a movie, called “Senior Prom”.
In 1961, she fell in love and married all-star third baseman Don Hoak, of the World Champion 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. When they married, Jill gave up her career to be a full time wife.
“Love Me To Pieces” was the highest charting (#11) song of the five tunes that Jill placed on the Hot 100. This has always been my favorite song by Jill and you’ll hear it on TUNEDEX MEMORIES.
Why don’t you love me to pieces, baby
Squeeze me ’til I’m crazy
Hold me the way you used to do
You know that my love is growin’ stronger
And I can’t wait no longer
Been saving my love just for you
Hold me, thrill me, squeeze me so tight
Miss me, kiss me, all day and night
Why don’t you love me to pieces, darlin’
No use in us quarreling
I only need your loving arms
You know that I’m plumb mad about you
I couldn’t live without you
I’m just wild about your charms
(Repeat first two verses)
Why don’t you love me to pieces, honey
Squeeze me ’til it ain’t funny
Give me the kisses that I crave
You know that I’ll never ever leave you
And I’ll never ever grieve you
You know that I want to be your slave