Dragonette, Jessica, 1900-1980

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Jessica Dragonette was a singer and actress, performing in radio broadcasting for 22 consecutive years. She began her career in 1924 with a role in Max Reinhardt's production of "The Miracle", followed by "The Student Prince" and "The Grand Street Follies". In 1926 she began her radio career with WEAF, which became NBC, singing the role of Vivian in one hour operettas in "The Coca Cola Girl" series. This was followed by "The Philco Hour", 1927-1930, and then the Cities Service Concert series, 1930-1937. After less than a year with "The Palmolive Beauty Box" Dragonette went on concert tours through the 1940s. Her sporadic radio performances of this period include: "The Ford Sunday Evening Show" and CBS "Saturday Night Serenade". She wrote two books: "Faith is a Song" (1952), her autobiography, and "Your Voice and You" (1967).

From the description of Jessica Dragonette papers, 1919-1982. (University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center). WorldCat record id: 123306390

Concert and radio singer.

From the description of Jessica Dragonette papers, 1936-1967. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 493895214


From the description of Reminiscences of Jessica Dragonette : oral history, 1980. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309732901

Jessica Dragonette (c. 1900-1980) was a soprano who achieved popularity through her twenty-two year career performing on radio, and for her efforts to support troops during World War II. Dragonette was born in Calcutta to Italian-American parents who both died shortly after returning to the United States. Dragonette was six years old at the time and was subsequently raised in various Roman Catholic Church institutions. She attended the Catholic High School in Philadelphia and then Georgian Court College in Lakewood, New Jersey, which was also a convent. Dragonette remained a devout Roman Catholic throughout her life and returned to Georgian Court College annually to perform.

While Dragonette was still in college, she began training under the renowned voice teacher Estelle Liebling in New York City. In 1924, Dragonette made her debut in the offstage role of angel in Max Reinhardt's The Miracle. She performed in two more Reinhardt productions, The Student Prince and The Grand Street Follies. In 1926, Dragonette appeared on the Coca-Cola Hour, radio's first original singing and acting serial, as Vivian (the Coca-Cola girl). The next year Dragonette started appearing on another popular show, the Philco Radio Hour. She performed weekly on the Philco Radio Hour from 1927 until 1930 when she left the program to star on the Cities Service Concert Series. In 1937, Dragonette became the star of the The Palmolive Beauty Box, but the show folded later that year. Dragonette had a dedicated fan base throughout her radio career; she was voted "Queen of the Radio" in a nation-wide Radio Guide contest in 1935 and "Radio Star of Stars" in 1938. Dragonette took a temporary leave from performing on radio full-time and began touring around the United States and Canada. In 1939, Dragonette sang the part of Princess Glory in the animated motion picture Gulliver's Travels. During World War II, Dragonette performed for troops and sold war bonds.

In 1947, Dragonette married businessman Nicholas Turner and retired from performing, though she occasionally sang at special events. In 1950, she recorded an album of religious songs called Ave Maria. Dragonette wrote an autobiography about her career and her Roman Catholic faith called Faith is a Song (1952), and a book on voice instruction called Your Voice and You (1966). Dragonette died March 18, 1980 in New York City, where she resided most of her life.

From the guide to the Jessica Dragonette papers, 1927-1973, bulk 1927-1950, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Jessica Dragonette papers, 1927-1973, bulk 1927-1950 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Dragonette, Jessica, 1900-1980. Jessica Dragonette papers, 1936-1967. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Dragonette, Jessica, 1900-1980. Reminiscences of Jessica Dragonette : oral history, 1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Matter, Herbert, 1907-1984. Herbert Matter papers, circa 1937-1984. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Dragonette, Jessica, 1900-1980. Jessica Dragonette papers, 1919-1982. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center
referencedIn May, Carol. Jessica Dragonette portrait and birthday card, 1940 and n.d. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn The Radio Entertainers and Announcers Collection, 1937-1945 (Bulk 1942-1943) © 2011 New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Herbert Matter papers, ca. 1937-1984 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Catholic Church corporateBody
associatedWith Columbia Broadcasting System, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Daum, Raymond L., person
associatedWith Dragonette, Jessica, person
associatedWith Matter, Herbert, 1907-1984. person
associatedWith May, Carol. person
associatedWith Muller-Ury, Adolfo, 1862-1947. person
associatedWith National Broadcasting Company, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
New York (N.Y.)
Radio programs
Women singers
Radio personalities
Sopranos (Singers)--20th century
Theater--United States
Performing Arts
Popular music
Women in radio broadcasting
Concert programs
Radio--United States
Women singers


Birth 1900-02-14

Death 1980-03-18


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