In 1948, Keely Smith was a seventeen year old living in her hometown of Norfolk, Virginia. That summer she made a point of stopping by the Surf Club in Virginia Beach where one of her favorite artists Louis Prima was performing. Upon arrival she discovered Prima was auditioning for a new female vocalist, however she was wearing only a bathing suit and was denied access to the club. Smith borrowed clothes from a friend and landed the part and left home to tour with Prima and his band.
By 1953 Prima had left his third wife Tracelene to marry Smith and was determined to make her a star. The couple developed an act together, made several hit records and had two daughters together. However by the early 1960’s the constant performing and Prima’s flirtatious nature became too much for Smith and she filed for divorce.
Interviewer: ”One of my favorite pictures that you have taken is of you and George by the white fence with the red creeping flowers behind you. It’s so still and composed and peaceful.”
Pattie: Oh, with the roses. I was absolutely thrilled that the roses had come out, finally. I set up my tripod and said ‘George, George, come and stand with me’ and obviously it was taking a long time for the timer to go off because he’s sort of gazing away. I think I look a bit worried about the camera thinking ‘come on, is it going to click or not?!’