With her clear tone, wholesome image and elegant vocal reserve, Margaret Whiting was one the 1940s archetypal pop stars.
The daughter of songwriter Richard Whiting (“On the Good Ship Lollipop,” “Ain’t We Got Fun?”), Whiting grew up alongside the Great American Songbook. Through her father’s association with Mercer and his partner Glenn Wallichs, Whiting became one of the first singers signed to Capitol Records when Mercer formed the company in 1943. His faith in the youthful singer was rewarded when her first release, “That Old Black Magic,” quickly made the pop chart's Top 10.
Throughout the post-war era, Whiting was a prolific and welcome presence on airwaves, jukeboxes and the charts, with first rate version of such standards as “Moonlight in Vermont,” “It Might as Well Be Spring,” Old Devil Moon” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” In 1949, Whiting made music history by recording the first pop-country crossover hit, with a duet version of Texas honky-tonk spearhead Floyd Tillman’s “Slipping Around.”
She was joined on the classic “cheating song,” by Singing Cowboy star Jimmy Wakely (a musician and film star so popular at the time that he was featured as the hero in his own weekly comic book) and, despite its somewhat racy lyrics, the record took only five days to reach the No. 1 spot on the country and pop charts. (Whiting became the first non-country star to appear on the Grand Ole Opry as result.) Other classic Whiting duets with Wakely included “Broken Down Merry-Go-Round” and, with Johnny Mercer, the perennial holiday favorite “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” By the mid-1960s, tastes had changed and Whiting retired from recording, but she continued making personal appearances coast to coast.