Jessica Dragonette

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Jessica Dragonette Jessica Dragonette.JPG
Jessica Dragonette

Jessica Valentina Dragonette (February 14, 1900 [1] – March 18, 1980) was a singer who became popular on American radio and was active in the World War II effort.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


Early life and career

Born in Pennsylvania as Jessica Valentina Dragonetti , the youngest of three children of Italian-born parents, Luigi (Louis) and Rachele (née Baronio) Dragonetti, the Social Security Death Index cites Dragonette's year of birth as 1900, as does the 1900 United States census (June 1900) which gives the age of "Jessie Dragonet" as 4 months. By Christmas 1909, she was orphaned, and raised in a Catholic convent school, Georgian Court College, in Lakewood, New Jersey, where she graduated in 1923, according to the list of the college's alumni. New York poet Ree Dragonette (1918-1979) was her cousin. [2]

Pennsylvania State of the United States of America

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the northeastern, Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

Ree Dragonette American poet

Ree Dragonette (1918–1979) was an American poet active on the New York poetry scene in the 1960s and 1970s. She founded the Calliope Poetry Theatre in 1971 and ran it until 1978. Her poetry-and-jazz concert with Eric Dolphy in 1962 was one of the first of its kind.

She began singing on radio in 1926, and during her 22-year radio career she helped to popularize operettas and semi-classical music. An admiring press dubbed her the "Princess of Song", a nickname she later would use to publicize concert events. She was the star of the Philco Hour on NBC from 1927-30 (Dunning, p. 543). She became the star of the Cities Service Concerts program, which she joined in 1930. By 1935, a listeners' poll voted her radio's most popular female vocalist. (Fraser, B15) Dragonette sang in a segment of the film The Big Broadcast of 1936 , on the condition that she have authority over the final cut on her performance. In the end she chose to have her part removed. In 1934, she provided the voice of Persephone in the Silly Symphony cartoon The Goddess of Spring . And in 1939, she provided the voice of "Princess Glory" in the full color animated motion picture Gulliver's Travels .

The Cities Service Concerts were musical broadcasts which had a long three-decade run on radio from 1925 to 1956, encompassing a variety of vocalists and musicians.

<i>The Big Broadcast of 1936</i> 1935 musical film by Norman Taurog

The Big Broadcast of 1936 is a 1935 American comedy film directed by Norman Taurog, and is the second in the series of Big Broadcast movies.

<i>Silly Symphony</i> series of animated short films produced by Walt Disney Productions from 1929 to 1939.

Silly Symphony is a series of 75 animated short films produced by Walt Disney Productions from 1929 to 1939. As their name implies, the Silly Symphonies were originally intended as whimsical accompaniments to pieces of music. As such, the films usually had independent continuity and did not feature continuing characters, unlike the Mickey Mouse shorts produced by Disney at the same time. The series is notable for its innovation with Technicolor and the multiplane motion picture camera, as well as its introduction of the character Donald Duck making his first appearance in the Silly Symphony cartoon The Wise Little Hen in 1934. Seven shorts won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

In 1940, Swiss-American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862–1947) painted a portrait of her that now hangs at her alma mater, now known as Georgian Court University. Müller-Ury became a close friend of the singer and painted her portrait several times—the last of the portraits, painted in 1946, depicts her wearing a gold fez. He also painted a portrait of the singer's sister, Nadea, in 1942. During World War II, she performed for charities benefiting the U.S. armed services, earning her an honorary commission as a Colonel. She performed frequently for the troops and sold a record number of war bonds. She once remarked that The Star Spangled Banner never had more meaning for her than it did during the war. In addition to English, Jessica impeccably sang in German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian. She was so good, she once fooled a diplomat into thinking Russian was her native tongue. Never one to use printed music, it’s estimated she memorized over 75 operas and more than 500 songs.

Adolfo Müller-Ury American painter

Adolfo Müller-Ury, KSG was a Swiss-born American portrait painter and impressionistic painter of roses and still life.

Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a private Roman Catholic university in Lakewood Township, New Jersey. Founded in 1908 by the Sisters of Mercy, the university has more than 1,500 undergraduates and nearly 600 graduate students.

The crypt of Jessica Dragonette Turner. Note that her year of birth is missing on the inscription. Jessica Dragonette Turner Crypt 2012C.jpg
The crypt of Jessica Dragonette Turner. Note that her year of birth is missing on the inscription.

In the mid-1950s, David Gottlieb, the president of the leading pinball game manufacturer, hired Dragonette to appear at coin machine functions promoting a pinball game called Dragonette. However, the game had nothing to do with Dragonette. It was spoof of a leading TV show of the period, Dragnet .


On June 28, 1947, she married Nicholas Meredith Turner (born October 28, 1915 - died March 8, 2010) at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York; both were devout Roman Catholics.[ citation needed ] The ceremony was performed by Cardinal Francis Spellman. The union, Dragonette's only marriage, was childless but happy, and lasted until her death. [3]

Francis Spellman American Catholic cardinal

Francis Joseph Spellman was an American bishop and cardinal of the Catholic Church. From 1939 until his death in 1967, he served as the sixth Archbishop of New York; he had previously served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston from 1932 through 1939. He was named a cardinal in 1946.


Jessica Dragonette Turner died on March 18, 1980 from a fatal heart attack not long after being released from the hospital after suffering an asthma attack. Her immediate survivors were her husband and an elder sister (Mrs. Nadea Loftus). Her widower died in New York City on March 8, 2010.

Dragonette is interred in a crypt in Our Lady Queen of Peace Mausoleum at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York. [4]


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Dragonetti is surname of:

Ury or URY may refer to:

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  1. Social Security Death Index entry for Jessica Dragonette,; accessed December 14, 2014.(subscription required)
  2. Melhem, D. H. (1992). "Ree Dragonette: A Brief Memoir". The American Voice. 29: 32–35.
  3. C. Gerald Fraser. "Jessica Dragonette, Singer, Dies; Popular Early Radio Performer". New York Times, March 20, 1980, p. B15.