Hildgarde was a cabaret singer known for 70 years as "the Incomparable Hildegarde," a title bestowed on her by columnist Walter Winchell. She was credited with starting the single-name vogue among entertainers.
During the peak of her popularity in the 1930s and '40s she was booked in cabarets and supper clubs at least 45 weeks a year.
She appeared on the cover of Life magazine in 1939, and her recordings sold in the hundreds of thousands. Revlon produced a Hildegarde shade of lipstick and nail polish.
"Hildegarde was perhaps the most famous supper-club entertainer who ever lived," pianist Liberace once said. "I used to absorb all the things she was doing, all the showmanship she created. It was marvelous to watch her, wearing elegant gowns, surrounded with roses and playing with white gloves on. They used to literally roll out the red carpet for her."
Her gowns were designed by Fontana of Rome. Her long gloves, upswept hair and the roses she handed out to her audience added to the glamor.
From the 1950s through the '70s, in addition to her cabaret performances and record albums, she appeared in a number of television specials and toured with the national company of the Stephen Sondheim musical "Follies."
Touring the country, and then settling in New York, Hildegarde developed her act, including a signature song, Sammy Fain's "I'll Be Seeing You." She accompanied herself on piano and chatted between numbers, often poking fun at herself.
During a 1993 performance at Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel, she said: "Wrinkle, wrinkle, leave me alone. Go and sliver Sharon Stone."
At the time, Stone was starring in the movie "Sliver."