Paula Kelly
The Modernaires 1951.JPG
Kelly and the Modernaires when they were regulars on the CBS radio program Club Fifteen, 1951.
Born(1919-04-06)April 6, 1919
DiedApril 2, 1992(1992-04-02) (aged 72)
Years active1939-1978
Spouse(s)Hal Dickinson, 1939-1970 (his death, 3 children)
Richard Turner, 1976-1992 (her death)
Children3 daughters( Martha, Paula junior, and Julianne), with Dickinson[1]

Paula Kelly (April 6, 1919 – April 2, 1992) was an American Big Band Singer.

Early life

Kelly was born in Grove City, Pennsylvania.[2] to Dr. Herbert Augustus & Julia Clarice (née Kennedy) Kelly. Kelly started her singing career in her hometown with her two sisters Julia & Martha, following Martha‘s death in September, 1938 she turned to big time singing.


Kelly sang with orchestras led by Dick Stabile, Artie Shaw, and Al Donahue.[3] In early 1941, she joined Glenn Miller's orchestra,[4] replacing Dorothy Claire and Marion Hutton.

Kelly originally performed solo, but also soon became the female lead of The Modernaires, originally a male trio, then a quartet, resulting in the group becoming a quintet of four male singers and herself. Her first recording with the group was "Perfidia", on which they sang with Dorothy Claire.[5]

In 1942, Glenn Miller went into World War II military service and his band broke up. The Modernaires continued with Kelly as lead singer until 1978, when she retired in favor of her daughter, who performed as Paula Kelly Jr. In the late 1970s, Kelly and The Modernaires kept Swing Era music alive with their performances in various venues.[4]

Personal life

She married ,[4] one of the original members of the Modernaires, on December 31, 1939, shortly after joining the group. They had three daughters and remained together until his death on November 18, 1970. In 1976, she married Richard L. Turner to whom she was married until her death. They lived in Laguna Beach.[6] Kelly died at a convalescent home in Costa Mesa, California on April 2, 1992, four days before her 73rd birthday.[6]


  1. ^ "Well- Known Vocal Quintet Featured in New Musical". Weekly Times (4248). Victoria, Australia. 22 November 1950. p. 55. Retrieved 3 June 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ Gordon, Shirley (August 11, 1946). "Men (and a Girl) of Music--The Modernaires" (PDF). Radio Life. p. 34. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  3. ^ Lee, William F. (2005). American Big Bands. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 97. ISBN 9780634080548. Retrieved 15 December 2016. Paula Kelly singer.
  4. ^ a b c "Swing era lives again". The Courier-Gazette. April 27, 1978. p. 11. Retrieved October 13, 2015 – via open access
  5. ^ Warner, Jay (2006). American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 50. ISBN 9780634099786. Retrieved 15 December 2016. Paula Kelly singer.
  6. ^ a b Folkart, Burt A. (April 4, 1992). "Paula Kelly; Sang With Modernaires, Glenn Miller". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 November 2015.


  • Flower, John (1972). Moonlight Serenade: a bio-discography of the Glenn Miller Civilian Band. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House. ISBN 0-87000-161-2.
  • Simon, George Thomas (1980). Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. New York: Da Capo paperback. ISBN 0-306-80129-9.
  • Schuller, Gunther (1991). The Swing Era, Volume 2: The Development of Jazz, 1930–1945. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507140-9.

External links