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Art Lund, 75; Singer With Goodman in Big Band Era

June 04, 1990|BURT A. FOLKART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Art Lund, a popular baritone of the Big Band era whose recording of "Blue Skies" was an enduring hit throughout the 1940s, has died in Utah, it was learned Sunday.

Lund, who also was the original Joey in the 1956 Broadway musical "The Most Happy Fella," was 75 when he died of liver cancer last Thursday, his wife, Janet, said from their home in Salt Lake City.

At 6 feet, 4 inches and with rugged good looks under a mop of blond hair, Lund also had a dramatic career in films, stage and television.

But his recordings of "Blue Skies," "My Blue Heaven" and "Mam'selle" became the foundation of a career that began in the late 1930s with the Benny Goodman band.

Lund was a student singing in small bands when he came to Goodman's attention.

Lund, who never formally studied music, also was a star football and tennis player. He had gone to Kentucky from his native Utah to become a teacher or coach. But Goodman's call for an audition changed both his plans and his name (he had been Arthur London), and he went on the road with the legendary swing band whose ranks included many soloists who someday would front their own groups.

He joined the Navy in 1942 (Goodman replaced him with Dick Haymes), but after four years of service in the South Pacific returned to Goodman, where he expanded his musical talents.

He also developed an acting flair and was on Broadway first in the early 1950s in a musical adaptation of "Of Mice and Men" and later in "The Wayward Stork." He was seen across the country in touring companies of "Fiorello," "No Strings" and "Destry Rides Again." "The Most Happy Fella," the Frank Loesser adaptation of "They Knew What They Wanted," was one of Broadway's biggest hits of the 1950s.

In 1968, Lund moved into films as Frazier, biggest of "The Molly Maguires" in the picture about the Irish rebel miners.

His other movies included "Ten Days Till Tomorrow," "Decisions, Decisions," "Bucktown" and "The Last American Hero."

On TV he was a frequent guest on "Gunsmoke," "Police Story," "The Rockford Files," "Little House on the Prairie" and "Daniel Boone."

But Lund was still singing in his 70s. He was a frequent guest at Big Band nights in Southern California, toured with the Harry James ghost band and recently sang in Australia.

He and his wife had lived in Sherman Oaks until his health began to fail earlier this year. They moved to Utah where they had first met in college.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, three daughters, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Graveside services are scheduled Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills. The family asks that contributions in Lund's name be made to the American Cancer Society.

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