Cobina Wright Jr. Makes Radio Singing Debut at 17

A photo of Cobina Wright Jr. on the cover of the February 17, 1941, issue of Life Magazine. She's seated and wearing a formal dress with bare shoulders and a large flower on the front. Her hair is curled and she's smiling. A caption reads 'Hollywood Party.'
Cobina Wright Jr. on the cover of Life Magazine, Feb. 17, 1941

At 17, attractive Cobina Wright, Jr., isn't the least bit worried by microphones. In fact, says she, "I love 'em."

And she speaks from a wealth of experience, for the blond and beautiful daughter of an equally well-known mother has appeared before some of the nation's best mikes. These ventures into radiodom include guest appearances on We, the People, with Eddie Cantor's Camel Caravan, Consolidated Edison's City of Light, and the True Story hour, not to overlook a recent fling into the mystic realms of television.

Cobina Jr., is pretty enthusiastic about broadcasting. "I like it because you can do so very much more in front of a microphone," she declared, opening her blue eyes wide with sincerity. "Radio reaches so awfully many people. I think broadcasting is one of the most fascinating things I've ever tried."

The young lady, as you probably know, is the talented protege of her astute mother who, after seeing the Wright fortunes collapse in the general melee of 1929, set out anew to restore the social and financial status of both Cobinas by a vigorous application of wits, talent and good business sense. She did it.

High-pressured to the ranks of the glamour girls, Cobina Jr. is tallish and slim, with trimly formed features and a wealth of blond hair. Despite her seventeen years, she possesses the poise and mannerisms of a maturer woman, tinged occasionally by some girlish inflection or gesture. Product of her patrician mother's tutelage, she aspires to a continued career before the microphone and on the stage. Like Brenda Diana Duff Frazier, with whom she went to school, Cobina Wright Jr.'s name has today become nationally synonymous with the term "glamour girl."

One of the features of guest broadcasting which she finds particularly appealing is the colorful tempo of the studios. "Things are at such tension all the time," she exclaimed. "That's what I like best. You sit there, waiting for airtime, and the little second hand on the clock just creeps around and around until suddenly -- you're on the air. Also, you can never tell when somebody is going to tiptoe up behind you and cut out or change part of your script to make it longer or shorter -- right on the air, too!" Her eyes opened wide again at this almost unbelievable phenomenon.

Cobina Jr. recalls vividly the ordeal she once went through just before her guest appearance on Columbia's We, the People. There had been a mix-up over arrangements for her scheduled song, and the one she planned to use was somehow mislaid . Minutes were precious, so slim Cobina sang her way through "All Yours" minus orchestral accompaniment while Mark Warnow and his band listened with an attentive ear. Then, instrument by instrument, the orchestra picked up the tune to match Cobina's arrangement. That night no one beyond the shiny walls of the studio noticed the slightest imperfection in either music or Cobina's own flawless voice.

She thinks her love of radio dates back to her own impromptu air debut at the age of fourteen. (If anybody doesn't believe Cobina is only 17, challenges Cobina Wright Sr., they can look it up in the records of the New York Hospital.) This debut was at the Hotel Ambassador and -- oddly enough -- also with Mark Warnow. Mrs. Wright, once an opera singer of note, was a vocalist. and so introduced Cobina Jr. without fanfare. She merely marched up in front of the orchestra to that intriguing microphone and sang "Love on a Dime."

Everyone applauded enthusiastically. They didn't know, however, that it was the first time this young girl had ever sung with an orchestra or before so many people. Listeners heard her over the air, wrote glowing letters. Mrs.Wright, who has taught her daughter all that she knows about music, glimpsed the beginnings of a possible career for Cobina Jr. Engagements followed at Palm Beach, Boston and back again in New York. The young lady, however, will not sing in any nightclubs. That was settled long ago. Right now mother and daughter are working on a joint radio program which they hope to offer over a nationwide network next fall.

Eddie Cantor has done much for Cobina Jr., inviting her frequently to share his microphone. Only sometimes, in spontaneous Cantor style, he shifts lines on her so that the show doesn't exactly follow the rehearsed script. "It keeps me on my toes," she explained, "but I guess that's good for me if I'm ever going to make an attempt at a stage career."

Cobina Jr never tells her friends to listen when she's slated for a guest appearance. "1 don't know why that is," she confessed, "unless maybe I'm superstitious. I'm afraid that if everybody tunes in perhaps I'll make a mistake or something. Anyhow, I never lell them to listen. I just hope that they will."

Dick Dorrance in Radio Guide, August 1939

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