Singer and actress Kaye Stevens, best known for her performances along side Sammy Davis Jr. and the rest of the Rat Pack gang, died Wednesday from breast cancer and blood clots at Villages Hospital in central Florida. She was 79.
ABC News reports that close friend Gerry Schweitzer confirmed the news of Stevens’ death.
Born July 31, 1933, in Pittsburgh, Stevens got her start as a drummer and singer in Cleveland while still a teenager. She later married bandleader and trumpet player Tommy Amato and the two performed together on the Us club circuit.
According to Wikipedia, Stevens caught her big break when she was booked to play a lounge at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. When popular performer Debbie Reynolds became ill, Stevens was asked to step in and became a big hit.
From there, Ed McMahon brought her to the attention of Johnny Carson and the Rat Pack.
Watch Kaye sing “I Want to Be Happy” (Skip to 6:08):
Stevens also went on a USO tour with Bob Hope in 1965, performing for American soldiers in the war zone to boost morale.
Besides singing, Stevens also acted in film and television. She appeared in six movies, earning a Golden Globe nomination in 1964 for “The New Interns.” She was a regular celebrity player on game shows and appeared as a regular on “Days of Our Lives” from 1974-79.
During the past two decades, Stevens started her own ministry, where she began performing only Christian and patriotic music. She also staged benefits to help build St. Vincent Catholic Church in Margate, Fla., her longtime home, where city officials named a park in her honor.
The Sun Sentinel reports that Kaye Stevens survived only by her many friends. Her husband predeceased her and the pair had no children.
via IB Times