Today's comic book is a one-shot from Dell covering the life (up to then) of recording star Brenda Lee. This one is a publicist's dream come true for Brenda Lee can do no wrong.
How much of this comic book is true and how much is hyperbole, I'll leave up to you. the book begins at the beginning with Brenda Lee's birth at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta in 1944. Um...well and good, but she was born at Grady Memorial Hospital in the charity ward of that segregated hospital. It's true that Emory University has a relationship with Grady Memorial, but giving the hospital that name is like calling Trump University "Bad Hair University" -- true, there's a correlation there but it's just not cricket.
Also there's no mention of Brenda Lee's birth name -- Brenda Mae Tarpley -- nor any mention of her father (who died when she was nine) exept for an oblique reference to her "widowed mother" near the end of the comic. As with many authorized star biographies, this comic was polished and buffed until it shone as bright as the sun.
How do you present the life story of someone who's onnly seventeen? You concentrate on the sunshine and lollipops.
So we have Brenda Lee making her radio debut at six and her television debut at eleven when her ecording career began. And we have Brenda Lee who, despite a burgeoning career, remains an A student, president of her class, co-captain of her high school cheering squad. Brenda is a mature, practical young lady who loes to travel, learn languages, meet people, and strives for excellence in everything she does. Yes, she thinks it's ok for kids to dress casual, but "never sloppy." she loves her mother, her siblings, her baby niece, and just everybody else. She limits herself to a budget of $5 a week, saving the rest. She amazes everyone with her maturity and her talent. She learns to drive a dog sled sled. She learns to ice skate. She learns to type, because a girl should have something to fall back on. She's popular with all the kids -- boys and girls -- but there's no mention of a romance. (The real-life Brenda Lee was married at 18 -- a successful and happy marriage it appears.) Awards, honors, hits, and more awards, honors, and hits.
As with many Dell Comics, I found the artwork to be poor, although Brenda actually looks like Brenda in a few panels. I didn't recognize Perry Como and Danny Thomas is only recognizable by an exaggerated hook nose. And Brenda's chest seems to have expanded greatly in several panels.
The real Brenda Lee is a good person and a great talent and -- as far as I can tell -- someone to be greatly admired. How much of her is included in this piece of fan fluff is, however, unknown.
The Comic Book Plus web site has only one review of this comic book -- and it gave the book ten stars. Brenda Lee still has at least one active fan, and probably many, many more.
Enjoy this little biography. Then sit back, relax and enjoy some Brenda Lee.
"Break It To Me Gently"
"Fool Number 1"
"The End of the World"
"All Alone Am I"