Billy Daniels (William Daniels)
Photos with Billy Daniels
BiographyJacksonville, Florida, USA
Billy Daniels toiled obscurely for years before becoming a star in 1950. He began singing in his native Jacksonville, Florida, moved to Harlem in 1932 and became a dishwasher and later singing waiter at Dickie Wells' restaurant-club. He toured with the Erskine Hawkins band circa 1935-36, then returned to Harlem, which he loved, and sang virtually every day, sometimes just for food. He became a staple on local radio shows, and in 1941 had a small record hit on Bluebird, "Diane"/"Penthouse Serenade". Read more... (he can be seen at this stage as the star of Sepia Cinderella (1947)). In 1948 he began to work permanently with pianist-backup singer Benny Payne, who also served as his musical director. About that time he began to make "That Old Black Magic" - which he'd first sung in the summer of 1946 at the Club Harlem in Atlantic City - his new trademark. A 1948 extended appearance at New York's posh Park Avenue Restaurant began his climb to fame, which climaxed in 1950 with engagements at Hollywood's Mocambo and Bill Miller's Riviera in New Jersey, capped by his sensational appearance in the film When You're Smiling (1950). From then on he was a star. He appeared in three Broadway musicals: "Memphis Bound" (1945), "Golden Boy" (1964) and "Hello Dolly". (1975). Mercury Records was his main label, but before he signed with them he'd appeared on Vocalion, Bluebird, Victor (with Phil Moore), Savoy (with Stuff Smith), Decca (Andy Kirk) and Apollo. His film credits are sometimes confused with the dancer-choreographer-actor Billy Daniel.