Friday, September 21, 2018

Pianola Pete

Newark-born Harriet Kay by the time she was nine was singing "professionally" at weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. At 12 she made her first TV appearance as one of Marie Moser's Starlets like Connie Francis among other young artists over Newark's WATV. 

Her first record was also the initial release on the Gibraltar label, which was part of Gibraltar Music, a publishing enterprise operated by Bill Harrington. Other records followed on Jubilee, Dawn and X, all released in 1955.  

In 1957 lots of things happened to her.  Firstly, she changed her name (she didn't like her old one). Her hair, once a wicked platinum blonde, was now just a semi-provocative honey blonde. And she was signed to a major company that issued on her about ten singles and one album between 1957 and 1959.


  1. Her full name was Harriet Ostrowsky, becoming Harriet Klinger in March 1957 when she married her husband, Samuel. That was also the same time she would become professionally known as Tina Robin when she signed with CORAL Records, having appeared at that time on the TV game show HOLD THAT NOTE (hosted by Bert Parks) where she accumulated winnings in excess of $30,000.00 over 3 episodes from March 19 thru April 2, and the end of the show's run.

    I THOUGHT I had all of her records accounted for (I've got most of them now, including this one), but what was her record on JUBILEE...?

    1. Jubilee 5210 credited to Tommy Owens & Nick Perito (vocalist Harriet Kay) : Silly Willy / Somewhere, Somehow, Sweetheart

  2. Thanks for the background info...

  3. I've been digging around still for that Jubilee release. In the meantime, I've been learning more and more about Bill Harrington, who used the name "Tommy Owens" for the Jubilee release. Harrington shared a similar background to Harriet in that be began performing (playing piano) at the age of 8 (ca. 1931), where he then had his own radio program by 1947. In June 1949, he became the new singing host of YOUR HIT PARADE on NBC Radio.

    In 1959, he added yet another record label to his repertoire simply called HARRINGTON. On that, he played piano and sang with the orchestra led by Nick Perito. It yielded 3 releases that I can account for with himself using his name simply as Harrington.

    By the very early 1960's, possibly 1960 or '61, Harrington teamed up with Bert Kent for a Broadway tribute LP called (One For The Money) Two For The Show on SMA Records. The shows saluted were "Mr. President" (by Irving Berlin) and "No Strings" (by Richard Rodgers). Harrington played piano and accordian while Kent played guitar and banjo. Credited as Bill and Bert, the duo is not to be confused with an earlier duo of songwriters who used the name Bert and Bill Giant. The Bert in that duo was Bert Berns.

    Where this whole drama turns around is when the "Kent" last name reappears, this time as with Larry Kent. In the earlier part of 1937, Kent fronted an orchestra with a parallel release on the Melotone and Oriole labels. The songs there were from a recent production called "STOWAWAY". One side was called "Goodnight My Love" with vocals by Avron Dale. The other side was called "One Never Knows, - Does One?". That vocal was sung by Harriett Kaye!

    What are the odds of running across another singer using (almost) the same name, with just a couple of extra letters at the end? Ahhh... One never knows, does one...