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Jeanne E. Hum, 73; Professional Whistler Won World Acclaim

June 16, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

Jeanne E. Hum, a championship whistler who performed everything from Beethoven to the Beatles and joked that she was the world's only whistling Hum, died May 15 from complications of leukemia in Youngstown, Ohio. She was 73.

A resident of Rolling Hills Estates for 33 years, she moved two months ago to the Ohio city she considered her hometown. It was there at age 5 that Hum discovered her unique talent, recalling in a 1994 interview with The Times that nuns at her elementary school had tried to blow the whistle on her music, saying it was unladylike.

But the whistler's mother happily chauffeured the girl around town for performances. It was at one of those shows at age 15 that she met Robert Hum, the man she eventually married.

"I said to my mother that Hum was the dumbest name. But I've always liked being a Hum. I tell people now that they know a whistling Hum," she said in 1994.

Hum won seven international awards for her whistling and performed for television and movies. She provided whistling music for one airline's in-flight music service and recorded two albums, titling her first one "Hum Whistles."

In Rolling Hills Estates, Hum was known for her annual St. Patrick's Day parties, which would draw other professional whistlers and fans from around the world. She joked that partygoers knew better than to indulge in too much alcohol, however. "Three drinks and it's over. It makes your mouth too dry," she said.

Funeral services were held in Youngstown. Hum is survived by her husband, of Poland, Ohio, and daughters Laura Brezner of Sausalito and Amy Gale of San Diego.

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