His band's recordings for Bluebird and Vocalion, including some which featured vocalist Paula Kelly, had also helped to increase Stabile's draw.
A 1942 Ripley's "Believe It or Not!" cartoon gave him further notoriety, by reporting that he was the "Only Musician" to hit the top note of the saxophone, "an Octave and 2 Notes above the Scale - practically a range of 4 full octaves."
given name Richard Stabile
birth May 29, 1909, Newark, NJ
death Sept. 25, 1980, New Orleans, LA, "coronary arrest"
father a violinist
brother Joe E. Stabile, a musician and manager, b.June 29, 1916, d.June 19, 2004,
"after a four-year battle with Alzheimer's disease"
wife Gracie Barrie, a singer, m.Dec. 20, 1937, div.1945?
second wife Mary Kirk Brown, div.1946?
third wife Trudy Ewan, m.Sept. 1947?, div. 1950s?
fourth wife Mimi Gendel, m.1960?
military service U.S. Coast Guard, 1943-1945
cousin "Dolly Dawn" (r.n. Theresa Stabile), d.2002, kidney failure
niece Judy Stabile
nephew Louis Stabile
memberships Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, New York City, elected Apr. 3,
1931; Local 47, American Federation of Musicians, Los Angeles, CA
residence Sherman Oaks, CA (1950)
Stabile served with the Coast Guard in World War II.
Just before he went in, he and his orchestra, comedian Benny Rubin, and the Hoosier Hot Shots were featured in a stage show at the Oriental Theater in Chicago, in December 1942.
Within a number of weeks, he entered the service and turned his band over to his wife and vocalist, Gracie Barrie.
Upon his return to civilian life, Stabile formed a new band which worked in L.A.-area nightclubs, including Slapsie Maxie's (owned by the champion light heavyweight boxer-actor Max "Slapsie Maxie" Rosenbloom) on Wilshire Blvd.
Stabile also played at Ciro's, on Sunset Blvd., where, in 1949, a young singer and his comic sidekick, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, were part of the show. Martin and Lewis soon graduated from clubs to national television (such as NBC's "Colgate Comedy Hour") and hired Stabile as their musical director and, often, made him a target of their antics.
A newspaper column once asked Martin, Lewis, and Stabile whether they enjoyed working on TV. Stabile replied, "It's equal to making a picture in a week instead of working on it six or seven weeks. I have to write all the music. Ordinarily I would spend four or five weeks to write that much music, but in television I have to get it all completed in one week."
Stabile also conducted for Martin and Lewis when they recorded, together and separately, at Capitol, including on two of Martin's hit singles, That's Amore and Memories Are Made of This; a 1953 10-inch LP, "Dean Martin Sings" (Capitol H-401); and his 1956 12-inch album, "Swingin' Down Yonder" (Capitol T-576).
After Martin and Lewis broke up in 1956, Stabile remained friends with both.
When Jimmy Dorsey lay dying of cancer in the hospital in 1957, he chose Stabile to play his saxophone parts at a Fraternity recording session with The Dorsey Orchestra, conducted by Lee Castle, held that June 17th.
Stabile also made several albums under his own name during this period, including "Dick Stabile Plays For You" (Bethlehem BCP-5003, 1955), "Dick Stabile at the Statler" (Tops L1590, 1958), and "This Cat Really Blows" (Dot DLP 3286, 1960).
He led the house band at the Cocoanut Grove of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles for seven years, from around 1961 to 1968.
When that job ended, he continued to perform at various venues, including, in 1969, at the newly-opened Circus Lounge of the Sheraton-Universal Hotel in Los Angeles, where critic Leonard Feather reviewed Stabile's performance as "traditional, though this a tradition too noble to have become antiquated."
By the mid-1970s, Stabile had relocated to New Orleans, and his band became the featured attraction in the Blue Room of the Fairmont Hotel (which had formerly been known as The Hotel Roosevelt) for a number of years. Though he suffered a stroke which paralyzed his left side, following recuperation he was able to return to work at the Fairmont.
Stabile's last national appearance was with Lewis on the 1980 Labor Day muscular dystrophy telethon from Las Vegas.
Memories are - indeed - made of all this!
"Armetta at Loew's State," New York Times, May 16,1941, p.21.
Harold W. Cohen, "The Drama Desk: Local Scrapping," Pittsburgh [ PA ] Post-Gazette,
Feb. 13, 1940.
"Dick Stabile Led Bands for Nation's Top Entertainers," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 29,
"Dick Stabile Tribute," dickstabile.com.
Leonard Feather, "Stabile Quartet at Sheraton-Universal," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 19,
"Gracie Barrie's Orchestra to Join W-G-N's Parade," Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan. 24, 1943,
Dorothy Kilgallen, "On Broadway: Gossip in Gotham," Pittsburgh [ PA ] Post-Gazette,
Aug. 10, 1946.
Roger D. Kinkle, "Stabile, Dick," in The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz
1900-1950: Volume 3 Biographies L Through Z (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House
Publishers, 1974), pp.1797-1798.
---, "Stabile, Dick," in Leading Musical Performers (Popular Music and Jazz) 1900 - 1950
(Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, Inc., 1996), p.303.
Jack Lait, "Broadway and Elsewhere," St. Petersburg [ FL ] Times, Jul. 19, 1947, p.10.
"Leads Husband's Band," Chicago Daily Tribune, Feb. 14, 1943, p.C8.
Herb Lyon, "Tower Ticker," Chicago Daily Tribune, Jul. 10, 1959, p.A2.
---, "Tower Ticker," Chicago Daily Tribune, June 9, 1960, p.C6.
Martin and Lewis Return to Laugh Routine With Zest," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 18, 1955.
"Night Life Scene: Songstress Trudy Stabile, ex-wife of orchestra leader Dick Stabile...,"
Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1959.
Ripley's Believe It or Not, Chicago Herald-American, Aug. 12, 1942.
Social Security Death Index.
"Stabile, longtime Jerry Lewis manager, dies," Las Vegas [ NV ] Review-Journal,
June 22, 2004.
Ed Sullivan, "Looking at Hollywood," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 20, 1937, p.15.
Traveling / Transfer File Dues Payment Card, Local 10, American Federation of Musicians,
"Vaudeville: Oriental theater," Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 6, 1942, p.12.
Maryon Zylstra, "The Inquiring Camera Girl," Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov. 22, 1950, p.A8.
I would like to expand this tribute with, if possible, a new interview of someone who was important to Dick Stabile's life or career. Are you an alumnus of his band, a member of his family, or a collector who is knowledgeable about his accomplishments? Please contact me via e-mail