As Pat Friday - the Singing Coed, Helen Patricia Freiday’s voice once graced radio, stage, and movies, often uncredited. She sang with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Glenn Miller, but her biggest satisfaction came when performing for the troops. Photo by Phil Houseal
Pat Friday as The Singing Coed
Friday ghost sang for actress Lynn Bari and others.
by Phil Houseal
She is where movie star Lynn Bari found her voice and how the star of TV's Dragnet got his name.
She is Fredericksburg resident Pat Friday, a delightful wisp of a woman who at the age of 15 hobnobbed with stars of film, stage and radio.
As Helen Patricia Freiday, she first found fame by winning a college singing contest. The prize was a guest appearance on a national radio show - Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall. She made quite the impression.
“The mail from my appearance was so heavy, they bought me - quite literally,” she said.
As Pat Friday (she dropped the “e” from her last name), she became a regular on the show, guested on all the popular radio programs of the era, and even hosted the Kraft Music Hall over two summers.
The young Friday spent her days in college, rehearsed in the evenings, and broadcast the show once a week. In her radio appearances, Friday worked with all the big names of her day. Here is a lightning round of her impressions of these larger-than-life personalities:
That was the way the Hollywood machine ground in those days. I asked her impressions of one more radio star - Bing Crosby. Reluctantly she told the tale of working with the Crosbys. They were not happy at her decision to marry, since it would finish her career as “The Singing Coed.” The powerful family went so far as to blackball her in Hollywood, a sentence later lifted by their mother.
And finally, Jack Webb:
“He asked me one day, how long are you going to be using your name?” Friday said. “He told me he may adopt it, and I said that’s OK.”
As fans of the radio and TV series Dragnet know, Webb became Sergeant Joe Friday.
Interestingly, her fondest memories are not about her brushes with celebrities. She prefers to remember the times she spent volunteering, helping out the homeless, soldiers, and folks down on their luck.
“On those shows where you were ‘paid’ money to perform, well, some were fun, some were not,” she said. “Some were a hoot, some were.... hoochie. The best part was the volunteer work I did during the war, for the USO, Command Performance, and Armed Forces Radio Service.”
Friday is active in the community, still volunteering. Her one frustration is that she cannot remember all the details of those heady days.
“At my age they say you should remember the past with total clarity,” she said. “Balderdash! I can’t, without the bits and pieces to support it.”
She laments the loss all those photos, scrapbooks, and especially her sheet music. Sheet music?
“How would you feel if you had a piece of sheet music that had inscribed on it from Ira Gershwin: ‘Finally! Someone sang Summertime as a lullaby. Thank you. Thank you!’ I grieve that I lost that.”
As we celebrate that we found Pat Friday.