Dorothy Collins

Dorothy Collins

Dorothy Collins (1926-1994) was born Marjorie Chandler in Windsor, Ontario. While still in her teens, Dorothy Collins came to the attention of seasoned band leader/composer/radio performer Raymond Scott, who later became her husband. Scott had established a well-respected career in film, recording, and radio, with his unique brand of music. Collins and Scott forged joint and solo careers that lasted well into the 1960's. As fate would have it, Raymond's brother passed away while serving as musical director for the legendary Your Hit Parade show, just as it was making its transition from radio to TV in the early 1950's. It was a natural for Raymond's wife, Dorothy, to join Eileen Wilson and Snooky Lanson as one of Hit Parade's singing stars where they performed the seven top hit songs of the week in scripted musical skits. Wilson and her replacement, June Vallie, each lasted only one season on the show. In 1953, Jack Benny heard about an opening on Hit Parade, and turned one of his own Lucky Strike sponsored TV shows over to Gisele MacKenzie as an audition; Gisele got the job and joined Dorothy, Snooky and Russell Arms for the next four years. While on Hit Parade, Dorothy signed with Coral records and turned out one modest hit, "Seven Days," among a string of singles and a jazz oriented LP with The Barney Kessel Trio.

With Broadway, film and solo television offers pouring in, Gisele MacKenzie's [<drop 's] had outgrown the boundaries of "Your Hit  Parade" by 1957, and advised the show's producers that she wouldn't return to the show under any conditions. Since youthful Rock and Roll had infiltrated the Hit Parade charts, the show's sponsors decided it was time to replace the entire cast with younger performers. The show lasted only one season with the new cast, and three later attempts to revive "Your Hit Parade" failed. Meanwhile Raymond Scott became A&R man at the newly formed Everest Records, where he lured Gisele MacKenzie away from RCA Victor, and hired his wife to make her first stereo recordings in the form of a holiday album. A joint album by Dorothy and Raymond for the label Singin' and  Swingin’ was eventually shelved, and the musical duo moved on to Top Rank Records, where Dorothy recorded a Latin flavored album "New Way to Travel" and another series of single records. Around this time, Dorothy moved on to a solo career as a most welcome guest on the major TV variety shows, concert venues, clubs and regional theatre South Pacific, Sound of Music, a stage version of Wizard of Oz, Brigadoon, etc.). In 1971,  Dorothy achieved full Broadway stardom via the musical Follies, for which she received a Tony award nomination. Plagued by asthma and other health problems, she retired to Florida in the late 1970's

James R. Stewart