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Fri, 07.25.1930

Annie Ross, Singer born

Annie Ross

*Annie Ross was born on this date in 1930.  She was a white-American (British) singer and actress.  

Annabelle Allan Short was born in Mitcham, London, the daughter of Scottish vaudevillians John "Jack" Short and Mary Dalziel Short. Her brother was a Scottish entertainer and theatre producer and director Jimmy Logan. At age four, she traveled to New York by ship with her family.  Shortly after arriving in the city, she won a token contract with MGM through a children's radio contest by Paul Whiteman.

She subsequently moved with her aunt, Scottish-American singer, and actress Ella Logan, to Los Angeles, and her mother, father, and brother returned to Scotland.  At age seven, she sang "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond" in Our Gang Follies of 1938 and played Judy Garland's character's sister in Presenting Lily Mars (1943).  At 14, she wrote the song "Let's Fly," which won a songwriting contest and was recorded by Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers.  At the end of tenth grade, she left school, changed her name to Annie Ross, and went to Europe, where she established her singing career.  In a 2011 interview, she said, "My aunt was very fanciful, and she said I had an Irish grandmother called Ross, so that's where that surname came from." 

In 1952, Ross met Prestige Records owner Bob Weinstock, who asked her to write lyrics to a jazz solo in a similar way to King Pleasure, a practice that would later be known as vocalese. The next day, she presented him with "Twisted," a treatment of saxophonist Wardell Gray's 1949 composition of the same name, a classic example of the genre.  The song, first released on the 1952 album King Pleasure Sings/Annie Ross Sings, was an underground hit and resulted in her winning Down Beat magazine's New Star award.  In 1949, Ross had a brief affair with drummer Kenny Clarke. This affair produced a son, Kenny Clarke Jr. (born 1950), raised by Clarke's brother and wife.  

During her time with Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, she became addicted to heroin and, in the late 1950s, had an affair with the comedian Lenny Bruce, who was also having drug problems.  She is best known as a member of the jazz vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross recording seven albums with them between 1957 and 1962. Their first, Sing a Song of Basie (1957), was to have been performed by a group of singers hired by Jon Hendricks and Dave Lambert, with Ross brought in only as a vocal consultant. The resulting album succeeded, and the trio became an international hit. Over the next five years, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross toured worldwide and recorded such albums as Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross! (aka The Hottest New Group in Jazz, 1959), Sing Ellington (1960), High Flying (1962), and The Real Ambassadors (1962), written by Dave Brubeck and featuring Louis Armstrong and Carmen McRae.  

By 1960, Carol Sloane was substituting for her on tour. After a performance by the trio in London in May 1962, she remained in London to confront her drug addiction.  Ross left the group in 1962 and 1964, opened a nightclub in London. Annie's Room hosted Joe WilliamsNina SimoneStuff SmithBlossom Dearie, Anita O'Day, Jon Hendricks, and Erroll Garner.  In 1963, she married actor Sean Lynch; they divorced in 1975, and he died in a car crash soon afterward.  By that time, she had also lost her home and declared bankruptcy.  

Her film roles include Liza in the film Straight On Till Morning (1972), Claire in Alfie Darling (1976), Diana Sharman in Funny Money (1983), Vera Webster in Superman III (1983), Mrs. Hazeltine in Throw Momma from the Train (1987), Rose Brooks in Witchery (1988), Loretta Crestwood in Pump Up the Volume (1990), Tess Trainer in Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993), and Lydia in Blue Sky (1994). She also appeared as Granny Ruth in the horror films Basket Case 2 (1990) and Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991). She also played a bit in Robert Altman's The Player in 1992.  She provided the speaking voice for Britt Ekland in The Wicker Man (1973) and Ingrid Thulin's singing voice in Salon Kitty (1976). On stage, she appeared in Cranks (1955; London and New York City), The Threepenny Opera (1972), The Seven Deadly Sins (1973) at the Royal Opera House, Kennedy's Children (1975) at Arts Theatre, London, Side by Side by Sondheim, and in the Joe Papp production of The Pirates of Penzance (1982).  

She became a United States citizen in 2001.   A compilation album of Ross's 1965 performances from Annie's Room was released on CD in 2006.   Annie Ross died on July 21, 2020.

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