Sylvia Syms (December 2, 1917 – May 10, 1992) was an American jazz singer.

She was born Sylvia Blagman in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, she had polio. As a teenager, she went to jazz nightclubs on New York's 52nd Street and received informal training from Billie Holiday. She made her debut in 1941 at Kelly's Stable.

In 1948, performing at the Cinderella Club in Greenwich Village, she was seen by Mae West, who gave her a part in a show she was doing. Among others who observed her in nightclubs was Frank Sinatra who considered her the "world's greatest saloon singer." Sinatra conducted her 1982 album, Syms by Sinatra.

She was signed to a contract by Decca Records, having her major success with a recording of "I Could Have Danced All Night" in 1956, which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. Syms made regular appearances at the Carlyle in Manhattan. At times, impromptu, while enjoying a cocktail in the bar of the Carlyle, she would walk on stage and perform with the cabaret's other regular, Bobby Short.

Syms had a lung removed around 1972. The operation didn't stop her from performing as Bloody Mary in the musical South Pacific at the Chateau de Ville Dinner Theater.

She died of a heart attack while on stage in the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. She was 74 years old.[3][4]

Discography

YearTitleLabel
1952Songs By [10" version]Atlantic
1954After Dark [10"]Version Records
1956Sylvia Syms SingsAtlantic
1957Songs of LoveDecca
1959Torch SongColumbia
1961That ManKapp
1964Fabulous20th Century Fox
1965Sylvia Is!Prestige
1967For Once in My LifePrestige
1970Love LadyStanyan
1976LovinglyAtlantic
1978She Loves to Hear the MusicA&M
1982Syms by SinatraReprise
1984A Jazz Portrait of Johnny MercerDRG
1989Then Along Came BillDRG
1992You Must Believe in SpringElba
2004The Columbia YearsColumbia

Films

  • The Goldbergs (1950)
  • The Blue Veil (1951)
  • Night Without Sleep (1952)
  • It Happens Every Thursday (1953)
  • Some of My Best Friends Are... (1971)
  • Born to Win (1971)

Television

  • The Tonight Show – 1955
  • The Tonight Show – 1956
  • The VIP Show of the Year – Sep 9, 1956
  • Stars of Jazz – Dec 17, 1956
  • Art Ford's All-Star Jazz Party – 1958
  • Playboy's Penthouse – Sep 23, 1961
  • Playboy's Penthouse – Apr 21, 1962
  • The Merv Griffin Show – 1962
  • The Merv Griffin Show – 1963
  • The Tonight Show – Sep 17, 1963
  • The Mike Douglas Show – 1965
  • The Merv Griffin Show – Jun 29, 1966
  • Donald O'Connor Show – Oct 21, 1968
  • The Merv Griffin Show – 1969
  • The Mike Douglas Show – 1969
  • The Mike Douglas Show – Aug 9, 1970
  • The Tonight Show – Aug 6, 1972
  • The Mike Douglas Show – Aug 11, 1974
  • The Merv Griffin Show – 1974
  • The Tonight Show – Feb 25, 1975
  • The Merv Griffin Show – 1978
  • The Dick Cavett Show – Nov 16, 1978
  • Dinah! – Nov 17, 1978
  • Over Easy – Nov 24, 1978
  • Over Easy – May 23, 1980
  • Glenn Miller: A Moonlight Serenade – Dec 1, 1984
  • American Masters: The Long Night of Lady Day – Aug 3, 1986
  • Buddy Barnes Live at Studio B – 1986