Singers: Song-&-Glance Man

It was during the vo-dee-o-do era of rumble seats and rolled-down hose that Rudy Vallee first took megaphone in hand, intoned "I'm just a vagabond lover," and invented the crooner. In the 35 years since, the crooner has endured through a succession of other musical crazes to become an American institution—if one that almost went under in the first great waves of rock 'n' roll. In the last few years the crooner has come back stronger—and sleeker—than ever.

Compared with the heigh-ho, collegiate approach of Vallee, today's crooner is a suave, smoky-eyed...

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