Dick Haymes: Great Singer Wed Six Times, Plagued By Alcoholism and Debt

Dick Haymes seen singing I Wish I Knew in Diamond Horseshoe (1945)

Fans of music from the 1940’s remember Dick Haymes as the singer, who never reached the name recognition of  his contemporaries, of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, but still possessed one of the best baritone voices of that era.

Haymes was born September 13, 1918 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and died in Los Angeles, California on March 28, 1980 at the age of 61 of lung cancer.

His first big break was when he was signed as the soloist for the Harry James Orchestra in the early 1940’s. He went on to sing with the big bands of Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey.

Next he would become a major recording star and appeared in 13 movies in the 1940’s, while also having his own radio program.

While his career was going well, he encountered marital problems in all of his six marriages, including the last one to Wendy Smith. She didn’t even attend his funeral, since she had filed for divorce before his death.

Wikipedia lists his six marriages:

Edith Harper
(1939; annulled) annulled when Haymes found out Harper was not pregnant, after Harper had told Haymes she was pregnant, causing him to marry her.
Joanne Dru
Nora Eddington
Rita Hayworth
Fran Jeffries
Wendy Smith

The six marriages produced six babies with three of them coming from his marriage with Joanne Dru.

Fran Jeffries was divorced from Haymes at the age of 28 and is 75 today and never remarried. She is famous for appearing in the movie The Pink Panther singing Meglio Stasera in the following scene.

Haymes had a serious drinking problem that plagued him for years. Then when his career took a downturn he began experiencing financial difficulties, due to his record and film contracts being canceled.

No matter how bad things were going for him, Haymes continued to possess one of the best baritone voices, ever heard in American music in songs like these:

Dick Haymes singing The Nearness of You.

Dick Haymes singing The More I See You to Betty Grable in the movie Diamond Horseshoe.

Life didn’t always treat Haymes well, but he never lost that rich, golden baritone voice, that he used for almost 40 years to entertain on radio, records, appearing with big bands and in the movies.

The world lost a great singer when Haymes died, but we can listen to his albums like this one that I have in my collection.


Spotify users that like music from the 1940’s will find a long list of  Dick Haymes music by just typing Dick Haymes in the search box.

If there is a listing for the word Easy Listening in the encyclopedia, it should be accompanied by a photo of Dick Haymes, since he best epitomizes what a easy listening singer should sound like.

His music is the kind of music you want to listen to after having a bad day, as you forget the troubles of the day and listen to the soothing music of Dick Haymes.

Dick Haymes may be gone, but he surely is not forgotten.


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

2 thoughts on “Dick Haymes: Great Singer Wed Six Times, Plagued By Alcoholism and Debt”

  1. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. He’s both gone and forgotten, and it’s his fault, no one else’s.

    1. Kelly, I agree that Dick Haymes caused most of his problems, since he was the one that couldn’t control his drinking problem. He should have known alcoholism was the main cause of his divorces, from what I have read. He would have been better off, to not have remarried so many times, because it made things even worse financially. He was a prime example of what alcoholism can do to a person. Like you wrote, it is his own fault. His mistake was taking that first drink, since he didn’t have the willpower to stop.

      He is gone and forgotten for some people, but he had one of the best singing voices, of the 20th century and I will be listening to his music, till the day I die.

      Thank you for taking the time to make a comment on the article.

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