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June 12, 2024

35 Fabulous Photos of Lily Pons in the 1930s and ’40s

Born 1898 in Draguignan in Provence, French-American operatic lyric coloratura soprano and actress Lily Pons had an active career from the late 1920s through the early 1970s. As an opera singer, she specialized in the coloratura soprano repertoire and was particularly associated with the title roles in Lakmé and Lucia di Lammermoor. In addition to appearing as a guest artist with many opera houses internationally, Pons enjoyed a long association with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, where she performed nearly 300 times between 1931 and 1960.

Pons also had a successful and lucrative career as a concert singer, which continued until her retirement from performance in 1973. From 1935 to 1937, she made three musical films for RKO Pictures. She also made numerous appearances on radio and on television, performing on variety programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Colgate Comedy Hour, and The Dave Garroway Show. In 1955, she topped the bill for the first broadcast of what became an iconic television series, Sunday Night at the London Palladium. She made dozens of records, recording both classical and popular music. She was awarded the Croix de Lorraine and the Légion d’honneur by the government of France.

Pons was also adept at making herself into a marketable cultural icon. Her opinions on fashion and home decorating were frequently reported in women’s magazines, and she appeared as the face for Lockheed airplanes, Knox gelatin, and Libby’s tomato juice advertisements. A town in Maryland named itself after her, and thereafter the singer contrived to have all her Christmas cards posted from Lilypons, Maryland.

Pons died of pancreatic cancer in 1976 in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 77. Take a look at these fabulous photos to see portraits of Lily Pons in the 1930s and 1940s.


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