Dick Haymes had a captivating baritone voice – some said it was the best of the 20th Century. He had a way with a ballad. He was good looking, a star on radio, TV and in films. He was a successful performer in nightclubs and concerts, and racked up an impressive string of hit records.
Some say he was in the same league as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Some critics considered him better than Sinatra.
But Haymes’ star never seemed to glow quite as brightly as Frank’s. And a look at his life may reveal why.
A Star is Born
Haymes was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on September 13, 1916. That’s something that most biographies agree on. And that his father was of Scottish and Irish descent and that his mother was Irish, a former musical comedy star, raised in the United States. They also agree that the family moved to America soon after his birth. But while some say that Benjamin Haymes was a cattle rancher in financial trouble in Argentina, others report that he and Marguerite Haymes were on vacation in Buenos Aires when Dick was born.
Whatever the circumstances of his birth, his father was soon out of the picture. Marguerite and Benjamin had another son, Bob, and then separated when Dick was just two years old. Dick’s mother moved with the boys, to Paris, opened a dress shop and prospered for awhile. The 1929 Stock Market Crash and the Depression took their toll on her business. She closed the store and returned to New York where she worked as a singer and voice teacher.
Go West, Young Man
Haymes made his professional debut at age 15, singing with the band at a hotel in New Jersey. The bandleader had seen Dick’s performance in an amateur production at the hotel and liked what he heard. Haymes began getting gigs with local bands but finally left school in 1933 and headed for Hollywood.
Once there, he formed a band which didn’t last long. He sang, without pay, on a local radio station in Los Angeles and worked as a stuntman or extra at MGM to make enough money to live on.
Haymes and brother Bob both wrote songs, but while Bob would go on to success in that area (one of his compositions is “That’s All