Classic female vocalist and dancer Ethel Shutta began her professional career as a stage actress in the late '20s, acquiring a large following and a solid reputation. Around the same time she was one of two singers featured in the popular big band of George Olsen, which made many hit recordings and appeared on radio programs such as the very first Jack Benny Show. She made her recording debut with this group in 1928, a version of "A Precious Little Thing Called Love" which was released on Victor. The male Fran Frey was the other vocalist in this group but it was no secret which singer the bandleader liked better, since he went on to marry Ethel Shutta. The two were wed around the time of their involvement in the Broadway show Whoopee and stayed together until the late '30s when they divorced and she married sports writer George Kirksey. She also appeared in the film version of Whoopee in the '30s in which she played Eddie Cantor's nurse (a job that kept her even busier than singing and dancing did since his character was a hypochondriac). It is believed to be the only film of her from this period. One of her most famous numbers from this show was the lilting song "My Baby Just Cares for Me," later recorded again with great success by Nina Simone.
Shutta continued working as a singer and managed to make an impressive series of career comebacks on the Broadway stage, including shows in 1943, 1963, and again in 1971, only a few years before her death. Her teaming up with fellow Broadway veteran and cabaret performer Fifi D'Orsay was one of the highlights of a Stephan Sondheim tribute show which was mounted in the early '70s. Shutta also appeared on television in the '50s in character roles, allowing one, for example, to see how well this classy performer blends into the Western atmosphere of a Wagon Train episode. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi