Do you know who was the bestselling female artist in America of the 1950s? If you’re thinking it might be Connie Francis, or Sarah Vaughan, or Teresa Brewer, think again. They were all among the top five, but none of them could match Oklahoma’s own Patti Page. On 26 August 1950, she entered the US charts with what would become her first No. 1.
Page released several flops in the early stages of her career, and sung briefly with Benny Goodman in 1948. She first appeared on a Billboard chart that year, when, at the age of 20, she reached No. 12 with ‘Confess,’ on her longtime home of Mercury Records, accompanied by the George Barnes Trio. It made waves not just because of her voice but because it was one of the first multi-track recordings.
After a series of popular releases, Patti entered the charts on that August day in 1950 with ‘All My Love,’ the melody of which, by Paul Durand, was based on Ravel’s Bolero. Page’s recording featured an English lyric (written by Mitchell Parish) of a song first recorded in French by Jacqueline Francois. The American public lapped it up: at the end of October, Page’s version began a five-week run at No. 1. The song was recorded at the time by the likes of Guy Lombardo, Bing Crosby and Percy Faith. Here’s Patti performing it in 1958 on the CBS series The Big Record:
Page would be back at the top of the charts before Christmas of 1950 with what was perhaps the song of her career, ‘The Tennessee Waltz,’ which sold over six million copies. No wonder she was named the Most Promising Female Singer of 1950. Further chart-toppers ensued with ‘I Went To Your Wedding’ in 1952 and ‘The Doggie In The Window’ the next year, amid dozens of hit recordings.