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Kitty Kallen, Dead At 94, Found Way To Get Her Voice Back For Live Audiences

January 9, 2016

A well-written obituary is the best way to leave this world–and The New York Times never fails to write one that does not demand to be read.

Kitty Kallen, her voice sweet and clear, welcomed the troops home from World War II, singing: “Kiss me once, then kiss me twice, then kiss me once again. It’s been a long, long time.” died this week at the of 94.   After singing with many of her era’s top bandleaders — Artie Shaw, Harry James, Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden — she outlasted their era

In 1955, Ms. Kallen’s throat began to seize up, and she could not sing before a live audience. But she could still record, which convinced her that the problem was psychological, not physical.

She went on to spend five “lost” years “in the clutches of psychoanalysts,” she told The American Weekly in 1960. One therapist urged divorce (she refused) and dragged her back through painful childhood memories of her mother’s death and of being called homely and nicknamed Monkey.

Another therapist, she said, thought everything was based on sex and had an office full of “strange contraptions.” Expected to undress for psychotherapy sessions, she quit. Yet another talked mostly about himself but also counseled divorce, she said. A fourth hypnotized her.

Finally, in 1959, she began to recover — no thanks, she said, to her therapists. The turning point came when her son, then 11, found her weeping over her mother-in-law’s death and tried to comfort her by saying that everything was in God’s hands. It was what she needed to hear, she said. Those words inspired a new degree of religious faith and enabled her to return to work. She retired in the mid-1960s.

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