LOS ANGELES — Jo Stafford, the honey-voiced band singer who starred in radio and television and sold more than 25-million records with her ballads and folks songs, has died. She was 90.
Ms. Stafford died of congestive heart failure Wednesday (July 16, 2008) at her Century City home, her son, Tim Weston of Topanga, said Friday. She had been in declining health since October, he said.
Ms. Stafford had 26 charted singles and nearly a dozen top 10 hits, her son said. She won a Grammy for her humor.
Her recordings of I'll Walk Alone, I'll Be Seeing You, I Don't Want to Walk Without You and other sentimental songs struck the hearts of servicemen far from home in both World War II and the Korean War. They awarded her the title of "GI Jo."
In 1939, she was working with a group of male singers called the Pied Pipers. The group was invited to join Tommy Dorsey's band, a big attraction in the swing era.
The Pied Pipers signed with the fledgling Capitol Records, but Ms. Stafford left the group to join Johnny Mercer, one of Capitol's founders.
At Capitol, Ms. Stafford, who had been married to Pied Piper John Huddleston from 1941 to 1943, became reacquainted with Paul Weston, who had been an arranger for Dorsey. They married in 1952, and he acted as her arranger and conductor for the rest of her career. They had two children, Tim and Amy.
Despite her shyness, Ms. Stafford appeared before studio audiences in radio and TV during the 1940s and 1950s. She had her own series, The Jo Stafford Show, in 1955-56.
In addition to her son, she is survived by daughter Amy Wells of Calabasas and four grandchildren. Paul Weston died in 1996.