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Ann Richards: Dreams Have a Way of Fading

The tormented life & mysterious death of Ann Richards, Stan Kenton’s bombshell bride and a supremely gifted yet sadly forgotten vocal-jazz siren

Photo of Ann Richards
Publicity photo of Ann Richards

As a teenager of the 1950s, singer Ann Richards fell in love from afar with the Toscanini of big-band jazz, Stan Kenton. He was 6-foot-4, silver-haired and old enough to be her father; she was a raven-haired bombshell, voluptuously endowed both physically and vocally.

Her goal of meeting him paid off spectacularly. He hired her to sing with his orchestra in 1954, and the next year he married her. In 1961 came the Capitol album Two Much!, on whose cover they stand side by side. Kenton dismissed skeptics: “Of all the singers we’ve had with the band,” he declared, “she’s the best musician.”

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