'Queen of the Yodellers'
Friday 17 October 2003
Julie Marlene Bedra (Rosalie Allen), singer: born Old Forge, Pennsylvania 27 June 1924; married (one daughter); died Van Nuys, California 23 September 2003.
Rosalie Allen was one of the most successful female country singers of the late 1940s. Billed variously as "The Prairie Star" and the "Queen of the Yodellers", she enjoyed a string of hit records, including "Guitar Polka", "Rose of the Alamo" and "Quicksilver", and became a pioneering broadcaster.
Born Julie Marlene Bedra, one of 12 children, into a family of Polish immigrants, she was drawn to music at an early age and taught herself to play her brother's guitar. Her inspirations included some of the most notable cowgirl singers of the era: Patsy Montana, whose "I Want to be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" sold over a million copies in 1935, and the Girls of the Golden West, a sister act whose unique harmony yodelling had made them major stars of hillbilly radio.
She made her own radio début in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and then headed for York, Pennsylvania, where she worked as the featured vocalist with Shorty Fincher's Prairie Pals. By 1943 she was based in New York and performing alongside the bandleader Denver Darling. She made her first commercial recordings with Darling, cutting both "Put Your Arms Around Me" and "Don't Wait Too Long to Forgive", on which Darling was billed as Tex Grande, for the local De Luxe label in 1944. That year she began to present the Prairie Stars radio show on WOV, New York and was, for a time, the only country DJ in the city.
In 1945 Allen signed with RCA Victor, an artist-label association that would result in much of her best work. Her first hit was a reworking of "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" and both it and "Guitar Polka" found their way into the upper echelons of the country chart in 1946. Allen's vocal pyrotechnics on "He Taught Me How to Yodel" helped to popularise Kenny Roberts's song, and a later association with Elton Britt produced several fine duets including "Quicksilver", "Beyond the Sunset" and "The Yodel Blues" (all 1949) and "Mockin' Bird Hill" (1950).
Allen appeared in the film Village Barn (1949) and that year began a four-year stint as the host of her own television show. She opened New York's first retail outlet devoted to country music and became a columnist for specialist publications such as National Jamboree and Hoedown. Having left RCA in the early 1950s, she cut a pair of albums for Waldorf Records before then largely retiring from the music scene.
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