Corning, New York native Alice Lucille Wydman — daughter of Frank Errold and Alice “Allie” (Agett) Wydman — was a well-known professional big band singer of the 1930s, ’40s and early ’50s. She got her break during the depths of the Great Depression when hired as a vocalist by WESG-AM Radio in Elmira.
She then was recruited to join a big band led by William Bissett. A native of St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada, he went by “Bissett” in Europe but in the United States used the stage name “Billy Bishop.” She traveled to Toronto’s Royal York Hotel to join Bishop and the band in the summer of 1934 and then made plans to accept an engagement in London. English labor regulations forbade her from performing, so while Billy performed in London’s Savoy Hotel, she toured with Jack Hylton in Paris and Berlin and throughout the European continent. She also toured with Freddy Gardner.
Alice and Billy fell in love in London, were married in Corning in August 1937, and then sailed back to London. Over the next 15 years, they “traveled the world,” said the Elmira (NY) Star Gazette. Among their top hits were Never in a Million Years, In a Little French Casino and There’s a Lull in My Life. Dennis Day also sang with the band at one time.
The couple was contracted to play in the Café de Paris for the month of August 1939. Once the month closed out, their plan was to return to the United States to care for their aging parents. But World War II broke out in Europe with the German invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, and overseas travel bans forced them to change plans. More >>>