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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 11 August 1901Chicago, Illinois, USA
Date of Death 7 January 2000Los Angeles, California, USA  (natural causes)

Mini Bio (1)

Bernice Petkere (pronounced "pet care") was born in Chicago to Canadian parents. She began as a performer in vaudeville. In a 1998 interview she said: "My mother started my aunt and me (I was five) as an act called 'Baby Dolls'...on the Pantages Circuit." As a teenager, Petkere sang with a dance band and became a pianist for Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, an important publishing company. She started writing music in the 1920s. "Starlight (Help Me Find The One I Love)" was her first published song (1931), and Bing Crosby recorded it for Brunswick. She wrote many radio themes when her second husband, Fred Berrens, was musical director at CBS. In the first years of the Great Depression, she created some lovely, haunting hits that were recorded and sung in America as well as abroad. One of her most successful numbers is "Lullaby of The Leaves." It was through lyricist Joe Young that she was introduced to ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers), of which she was a member for over six decades. In 1932 composer-publisher Irving Berlin, for whom she had worked as a pianist, invited her to write for his prestigious company. For Berlin she wrote "The Lady I Love," which was popularized by Russ Columbo. Petkere declared, "I never was pals with the other women composers, or even the male ones. I had a private life in Manhattan. I lived at Hotel Pierre. My first husband, Eddie Conne and I lived elegantly...You had to be businesslike about music, and I was. Only a couple of music executives ever got what I call 'fresh' with me, and I let them have it, smack in the face like you never saw. I never smoked and I never drank, do you believe that?" She often wrote the lyrics as well as the music. One of her most successful songs, "Close Your Eyes," was an international sensation in 1933 and is considered a "standard." The on-going play between major and minor chords gives this song a distinct personality. Several of Petkere's songs have this melancholy minor feeling to them. When asked if she was reflecting the tenor of the Depression in her music, she said absolutely not -- it was just her "thing" then. Other Petkere songs include "My River Home," "By a Rippling Stream," "Stay Out of My Dreams," and "A Mile a Minute." Her song "It's All So New To Me" was featured in the Joan Crawford film "Ice Follies" (MGM, 1939). Petkere and her second husband, who died in 1974, moved to Southern California in the late '30s, where she busied herself writing, including story and the screenplay for the film Sabotage Squad (1942). She was a member of ASCAP, Writers Guild of America and Song Writers Guild. She was survived by a sister, Renee Petkere Alvarez and several cousins. She was interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on January 12, 2000.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: pmintun@mac.com

Spouse (2)

Fred Berrens (? - ?)
Eddie Conne (? - ?)

See also

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