On July 28, 1933, a fan sent Vallee a telegram, wishing him a happy birthday. Telegrams had long been harbingers of bad news, and this light-hearted message gave George P. Oslin a  bright idea. Oslin, a public relations director at Western Union, asked operator Lucille Lipps to sing the message to the bandleader…and the singing telegram was born. Western Union started offering the service to the public that year, and carried on until 1974.

Before Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and all the rest, Rudy Vallee was the first crooner. Before electric microphones, singers needed powerful voices to reach theater cheap sets. Vallee’s solution: he sang through a megaphone, which allowed him to project those velvety tones. You’ve been listening to his 1930 record “Heigh-Ho, Everybody!”, the phrase he used to greet live crowds and radio audiences throughout his career.