Frankly, until this morning, I had never heard of her before. But while going through my morning routine of scouring the Internet for radio show prep, I came across her obit that was titled, “Big Band Singer Dies”. Reading the story, she was a fairly big deal in her day. She toured with several bands, including Bob Crosby. She was even in a four women musical review that included herself, Helen O’Connell, Rose Marie (eventually, part of the Dick Van Dyke Show) and Rosemary Clooney. That’s pretty big time.
OK, that’s interesting to a point. But the gold had to do with when she was growing up and her dad, Richard Whiting. He was a songwriter and came to Hollywood back in the 1930s. He gets credit for writing the iconic “Hooray for Hollywood” song. That’s impressive.
But one day, Margaret came home after school, all sticky from the sucker she’d been working on. Her dad had run into a mental block, but when his little girl came up and started giving him sticky kisses, the light went on. The song, “On the Good Ship Lollipop” was born and given to Shirley Temple to sing in her next movie.
Margaret had a remarkable life. The fact none of us knew about her or were aware of her accomplishments didn’t make it any less remarkable. I’ve always felt that everyone’s life could be turned into a movie. We’ve all encountered heartache, victories, defeats, adventures…but when spread out over a lifetime, we tend to downplay them.
In time, the people who were aware of Margaret will be gone and she’ll quickly become just another old person in a nursing home whose story came to an end in 2011. I’m glad I got to meet her before she headed off into obscurity and I thought you would, too.