June Pursell – 1929

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Brunswick 4635 label image


“Never Say Die”
June Pursell, vocal
(Brunswick 4635)           November 8, 1929


“The Album Of My Dreams”
June Pursell, vocal
(Brunswick 4635)           November 8, 1929


Here are two recordings by a mostly forgotten vocalist who was briefly famous from the mid-1920s until she disappeared from public view in 1934.

June Pursell rose to prominence on the West Coast through regular radio broadcasts over station KNX Los Angeles.  Her radio fame enabled her to get a contract on a vaudeville circuit that toured the West and Midwest.  In 1925, she made two trial recordings for Victor, which were not issued.  Between 1928 and 1930 she recorded several sides for Brunswick, some as the featured artist and others as a vocalist for the Roy Fox and Earl Burtnett bands.

In 1927 Pursell starred in an early Vitaphone musical short feature, June Pursell – Hollywood’s Radio Girl.  She appeared in two subsequent films,  The Hollywood Review in 1929 and Viennese Nights in 1930.

In early 1932, Pursell moved to New York City after receiving a contract for her own five-day-a-week radio program over the NBC Red Network from station WEAF New York. That same year she recorded four sides on Victor as vocalist with Jack Denny And His Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra.

For reasons apparently unknown,  Pursell stopped appearing in newspaper radio listings in 1933.

In February 1934, several local newspaper articles reported Pursell returning to her hometown of Indianapolis for the first time in ten years to appear in a show at that city’s Lyric Theater. After that, she seems to have disappeared from public mention, and I was not able to find any source that provided the date she passed away.

Her Wikipedia entry states that she married a man named Thomas H. Culkin in January 1952, citing a Scranton, Pennsylvania newspaper.   But that is incorrect.  The June Pursell mentioned in that newspaper article was born in 1929.

The Wikipedia article also states that she composed two songs that were copyrighted in 1956 and credit her as the author of both the music and the lyrics: “I Couldn’t Love You More If I Tried” and “What Good Am I Without You.”  The latter song is not related to either the 1930 Milton Ager or the 1964  Kim Weston and Marvin Gaye compositions that have the same title.   I was not able to find any information that was able to confirm whether or not the June Pursell who copyrighted the two songs in 1956 was the same person as the 1920s – early 1930s singer and radio star.

The song “Never Say Die” comes from the 1930 film Behind The Make-Up.  While this recording was made in November 1929,  the record did not appear in stores until February 1930, the same month the film debuted in theaters.    The uncredited band backing Pursell up on both of these recordings was Earl Burtnett’s Los Angeles Biltmore Orchestra.

If you enjoy these recordings help us spread the word that this wonderful, forgotten music exists by sharing this page with your friends.
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