Eileen Barton

Singer of 'I'd've Baked a Cake'

Eileen Barton, singer: born New York 24 November 1929; died West Hollywood, California 27 June 2006.

The phrase for an unexpected guest, "If knew you were coming, I'd've baked a cake", has now passed into the language, but few would know that it originated with the singer Eileen Barton, who topped the US charts for three months with the song in 1950.

She was an excellent singer, working with Frank Sinatra, Buddy Greco and Nat "King" Cole, but, despite her father's being a successful music publisher, she never recorded enough strong original material and she will be best remembered for her cheerful novelty success.

Eileen Barton was born in Brooklyn in 1929 to Benny and Elsie Barton, who had a song-and-dance act in vaudeville. As soon as she could speak, her parents developed a routine for the song "Ain't Misbehavin' ", which led to her working two shows a day at the Palace Theatre on Broadway. When she was seven, she was featured as the mischievous child, Jolly, on Milton Berle's radio show for CBS and she appeared in the film Show for Sale (1937) as Eileen "Jolly" Barton. In 1941, she was in the chorus for the Broadway musical Best Foot Forward, and then toured in Angels in the Wings with Elaine Stritch.

In 1943, Ben Barton passed Frank Sinatra an exceptional new song, "Close to You", and suggested that Sinatra finance a publishing company with him in charge. Over the years, Barton Music published many of Sinatra's hits including "Nancy with the Laughing Face" and his signature tune "Put Your Dreams Away". Ben Barton's association with Sinatra helped Eileen's career, as she appeared on his Paramount shows in New York in 1944, and often sang with him on television and radio. They appeared together on the radio show Lucky Strike Presents Your Hit Parade, and several duets with Sinatra survive including "Together" and "Come Out Wherever You Are".

Bob Merrill, who was to write "How Much is That Doggie in the Window" and many Guy Mitchell hits, gave her "If I Knew You Were Comin', I'd've Baked a Cake". The record soared to the top of the charts and she beat off competition from Georgia Gibbs and Ethel Merman, but the best-selling versions in the UK were by Gracie Fields and Eve Young.

Barton followed her hit with "Dixieland Ball, "May I Take Two Giant Steps", "You Brought a New Kind of Love for Me" and "En-Thus-E-Uz-E-As-M (Enthusiasm)", but she didn't repeat that success. In 1951, she covered Johnnie Ray's "Cry" and did reasonably well in 1953 with "Sway (Quien Sera)"and "Pretend".

As with many singers, her career faltered with the advent of rock'n'roll. In 1962 she appeared in a dire Jayne Mansfield film, Promises! Promises! Shortly before she died, she assisted with a 2-CD set of her recordings.

Spencer Leigh

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam