Teresa Brewer, 76, a native of the Birmingham neighborhood of East Toledo who went on to international fame in the 1940s and 1950s with such chart-topping hits as Music, Music, Music, and Till I Waltz Again with You, died of a neuromuscular disease yesterday at her New Rochelle, N.Y. home.
Her four daughters were at her bedside, Bill Munroe, a family spokesman, said.
Ms. Brewer had scores of hits, beginning with Music, Music, Music in 1949 and continuing with Let Me Go, Lover, and Ricochet.
Ms. Brewer had a burgeoning film career too, but pared down her public life to raise her children. She re-emerged later to perform with such jazz greats as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Wynton Marsalis.
She was just a wonderful, lovely lady, said Mr. Munroe, a longtime family friend and president of her fan club.
Her career was always a hobby with her; her family always came first, Mr. Munroe said. She always considered her legacy not to be the gold records and the TV appearances, but her loving family.
She was first Theresa Breuer, born in a house on York Street to Helen and Louis Breuer. The family later lived on Valentine Street.
She began her singing career in 1934 on the Lutz Bakery Kiddie Carnival on WSPD Radio, 1370. She was paid in cookies.
She won an amateur contest at the Paramount Theater in downtown Toledo. Then at 6, she was a winner on Major Bowes Amateur Hour, a prominent national radio show. She was part of a Major Bowes touring company for about six years and performed around the nation.
Ms. Brewer returned to Toledo and attended Waite High School.
She resumed her career in the late 1940s, changed her name and, by 18, was singing in prominent New York City clubs.
Ms. Brewer had close to 40 songs that topped the charts, Mr. Munroe said, including Till I Waltz Again with You, Dancin with Someone, Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall, Ricochet, and Let Me Go, Lover.
In 1953, Till I Waltz Again With You sold more than 1.4 million copies.
That year she also won a poll conducted by Paramount Pictures to select the country s most popular female singer to cast in the studio s 3-D Technicolor movie, Those Redheads from Seattle.
She landed one of the title roles, and the reviews were rave. Paramount offered her a seven-year contract, but she declined, choosing instead to stay in New Rochelle.
Ms. Brewer continued to record and make TV appearances, but she had four girls by then and spent most of her time raising them, Mr. Munroe said.
Throughout her decades-long career, Ms. Brewer performed on TV with Mel Torme, sang with Tony Bennett, and guest-hosted several variety shows. She appeared 39 times on The Ed Sullivan Show, and even guest-hosted the popular television program.
She was popular in Las Vegas, receiving up to $40,000 a week.
She told The Blade in 1991 that during a Las Vegas engagement in 1971, Elvis Presley sent a messenger to her dressing room because he wanted to meet her. He told her that she got him started in show business because the first song he sang in public was Till I Waltz Again With You.
Ms. Brewer was inducted into the Birmingham Hall of Fame in 1982. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
She and her first husband, Bill Monahan, divorced. In 1972, she married legendary jazz producer Bob Thiele. He died in 1996.
Duke Ellington s last studio recording in 1974 was a collaboration with Ms. Brewer.
She continued recording into the 1990s.
For many years, she returned home annually to Toledo the Birmingham neighborhood to visit family and friends.
I don t need to be in the spotlight to be happy, Ms. Brewer told The Blade in 1991. I am just as happy when I cook, or when I clean. I enjoy it when I am on the stage, but I don t need it. I think that s the key to being happy.
Surviving are her four daughters, four grandsons, and five great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending, Mr. Munroe said.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.