Although she more or less reinvented herself as a TV personality in the latter part of her career, in the early 1950’s Jaye P. Morgan was one of the fastest-rising young singing stars around. Her vocal talents, along with her charisma and drop-dead beauty, helped set the stage for what would become a long-lasting career for the unforgettable entertainer.
Born Mary Margaret Morgan in Colorado, she picked up her nickname in high school as a playful version of the name of legendary financier J.P. Morgan. Growing up as part of a musical family that often performed on tour and at one time had its own radio show, she was a polished performer from an early age. By the time she reached adulthood, she was ready for the big time.
It didn’t take long for her to make an impact. She began singing for the Frank DeVol orchestra and was such a hit that she soon found herself in a recording studio, making the first of what would eventually be a long list of popular records. Early success included “Just A Gigolo” and “Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries,” and over the next few years the hits just kept coming. Among her highest charting records were “Swanee,” “The Longest Walk,” and her biggest seller, “That’s All I Want From You.”
But Jaye wasn’t just a recording artist. Like a lot of other rising stars in that era, she began to appear in other venues – especially TV – and it laid the groundwork for what would become her second career. Beginning with guest shots on various shows, she soon worked into regular appearances on Perry Como’s popular program and also that of Robert Q. Lewis. Soon she had her own TV show, and although it didn’t last too long it did allow her the opportunity to showcase other members of her family — the singing Morgan Brothers.
Over the next several decades Jaye continued to sing and record, but she also became a popular part of the TV landscape. She appeared regularly on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and other popular variety shows. She also became a frequent guest on game shows where she was ready for anything, which might explain her frequent – and sometimes silly – appearances on programs such as The Gong Show and The Muppets.
In later years Jaye occasionally made colorful guest shots in movies, and as as recently as 2003 was still showing up on Hollywood Squares. These days she’s pretty much enjoying a well-deserved retirement, but I have a feeling that she would still be up for just about anything.