Rudy Vallee, the singer with the raccoon coat and megaphone who was considered the first in a generation of crooners, was remembered by friends and relatives Saturday as "a part of Americana."
"He was a great guy. He was a great American," his widow, Eleanor Vallee, said after a memorial service attended by 500 people at St. Charles Catholic Church in North Hollywood. "I thank all of you for loving him so much."
Among those attending the service were actresses Dorothy Lamour and Barbara Rush.
Vallee, who would have been 85 on July 28, died Thursday while watching the telecast of the Statue of Liberty celebration with his wife in their Hollywood Hills home. He will be buried in a family plot in Maine on his birthday.
"For me and for all of us here, Mr. Vallee was indeed a part of Americana," Monsignor Thomas Kiefer said in his sermon. "And it seems appropriate that God called him when he was watching the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty."
The hourlong service ended with the hymn "America the Beautiful."