Patti Page, the apple-cheeked, honey-voiced alto whose sentimental, soothing, sometimes silly hits like “Tennessee Waltz,” “Old Cape Cod” and “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window” made her one of the most successful pop singers of the 1950s, died on Tuesday in Encinitas, Calif. She was 85.
Her death was confirmed by Seacrest Village Retirement Communities, where she lived.
Ms. Page had briefly been a singer with Benny Goodman when she emerged at the end of the big band era, just after World War II, into a cultural atmosphere in which pop music was not expected to be challenging. Critics assailed her style as plastic, placid, bland and antiseptic, but those opinions were not shared by millions of record buyers. As Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times in 1997, “For her fans, beauty and comfort were one and the same.”
“Doggie in the Window,” a perky 1952 novelty number written by Bob Merrill and Ingrid Reuterskiöld, featured repeated barking sounds and could claim no more sophisticated a lyric than “I must take a trip to California.” It is often cited as an example of what was wrong with pop music in the early ’50s, a perceived weakness that opened the door for rock ’n’ roll. But if that is true, and if the silky voice of “the singing rage, Miss Patti Page,” as she was introduced during her heyday, was mechanical or sterile, she had significant achievements nonetheless.
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