Keely Smith (Dorothy Jacqueline Keely)
Photos with Keely Smith
BiographyNorfolk, Virginia, USA
Keely Smith was born March 9, 1932 in Norfolk, VA. After her parents divorced and her mother remarried Jesse Smith when she was nine years old, she changed her name to Keely Smith after she joined Louis Prima and his band. Her family had a tough time and her three brothers and her took in laundry to make ends meet. In 1947, she was on a vacation trip to New York City where the heat became oppressive. The family decided to go to Atlantic City, N.J. instead. Keely went to the Steel Pier where Louis Prima was appearing. Read more... at the surf club in Virginia looking for a singer. Keely auditioned and was selected and hit the road at 18-years-old. They were subsequently married on July 13, 1953 and issued two daughters, Toni Prima and Luanne Prima. Keely was Prima's fourth wife. For many years, they appeared together in Las Vegas with bandleader Sam Butera and made "that old black magic" a standard. In 1961, Keely filed for divorce citing extreme mental cruelty. In 1965, she married Jimmy Bowen, a record producer and they were later divorced. She currently lives in Nevada and makes appearances in the Las Vegas area. Prima died in a nursing home in New Orleans on August 24, 1978 after being in a coma for several years. Her film credits include: Sing Sing Sing (2002), Thunder Road (1958) and Hey Boy! Hey Girl! (1959).