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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 9 March 1932Norfolk, Virginia, USA
Birth NameDorothy Jacqueline Keely

Mini Bio (1)

Keely Smith was born March 9, 1932 in Norfolk, VA. After her parents divorced and her mother remarried Jesse Smith when she was nine years old, she changed her name to Keely Smith after she joined Louis Prima and his band. Her family had a tough time and her three brothers and her took in laundry to make ends meet. In 1947, she was on a vacation trip to New York City where the heat became oppressive. The family decided to go to Atlantic City, N.J. instead. Keely went to the Steel Pier where Louis Prima was appearing. In 1948, Prima appeared at the surf club in Virginia looking for a singer. Keely auditioned and was selected and hit the road at 18-years-old. They were subsequently married on July 13, 1953 and issued two daughters, Toni Prima and Luanne Prima. Keely was Prima's fourth wife. For many years, they appeared together in Las Vegas with bandleader Sam Butera and made "that old black magic" a standard. In 1961, Keely filed for divorce citing extreme mental cruelty. In 1965, she married Jimmy Bowen, a record producer and they were later divorced. She currently lives in Nevada and makes appearances in the Las Vegas area. Prima died in a nursing home in New Orleans on August 24, 1978 after being in a coma for several years. Her film credits include: Sing Sing Sing (2002), Thunder Road (1958) and Hey Boy! Hey Girl! (1959).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mike McKinley

Spouse (3)

Jimmy Bowen (1965 - ?) (divorced)
Louis Prima (13 July 1953 - 1961) (divorced) (2 children)
Bobby Milano (? - ?)

Trivia (11)

Her singing idols were Ella Fitzgerald and June Christy.
Of part Cherokee heritage, Keely once played the tragic, half-mulatto Julie in a touring version of "Showboat."
She and husband Louis Prima were the toast of Las Vegas in the 1950s. She was the sultry, sexy singer who played "straight man" to her husband's wild antics--years before Sonny & Cher did the same thing in their concerts and TV shows.
At age 14, she started singing with a naval air station band led by Saxie Dowell and at 15 received her first paying job with the Earl Bennett Band. She hooked up with Louis Prima's outfit at age 17 and later married him.
Recorded many successful duets with Louis Prima, their best-known hit being "That Ol' Black Magic", which was a top-20 hit in 1958. They also had hits with "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," which was also a hit for The Andrews Sisters in 1937.
Keely's album "I Wish You Love," a solo debut that confirmed her own star power, received a Grammy nomination and sold over a million copies.
Actor Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese are long-time fans of Keely's, and over the years have placed her music in many of their films, both together and separately. These include The Deer Hunter (1978), Raging Bull (1980), Analyze This (1999), That Old Feeling (1997), Big Night (1996) and Mad Dog and Glory (1993).
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
Ex-sister-in-law of Leon Prima and Madeline Prima.
Still singing in her 70s, she is set to appear at the Cerritos Center in Southern California. [April 2005]
Still performing to appreciative audiences. Her May, 2004, run of performances at Feinstein's in Manhattan played to excellent reviews from the news media and standing ovations from her audiences. [May 2004]

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