Helen Meeks Weyer, 94, singer performed with Arthur Godfrey

April 07, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

As a young singer, Helen Meeks Weyer teamed with Arthur Godfrey on WFBR Radio in 1929.

At that time, the red-haired Mr. Godfrey, who became one of America's foremost radio and television personalities, was a singer and banjo player stationed at the Coast Guard station in Curtis Bay.

Mrs. Weyer, who was Mr. Godfrey's first female singing partner, later sang with Will Osborne's 20-piece orchestra in New Orleans and performed in the Empire Room at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Mrs. Weyer, who was 94, died Sunday of a stroke at Union Memorial Hospital.

The longtime resident of Carrollton Apartments was known professionally as Helen Meeks, "Baltimore's Personality Girl," when she had a 15-minute show three times a week on WFBR Radio in 1929.

One day, she and the station manager listened as Mr. Godfrey, auditioning for a job, sang in his deep gravelly voice:

"I'm Alabammy bound,

There'll be no heebie jeebies

Hangin round "

"I always called him Reds," Mrs. Weyer told the Baltimore News American in a 1983 interview. "He sounded fine during the audition and I said he had a nice personality and a nice voice, so the manager suggested we could be a duet."

In September 1929, she and Mr. Godfrey, who was billed as the "Warbling Banjoist," made their debut on "Me and My Boyfriend," sponsored by General Tire Co. and broadcast from WFBR's old studios in the Chesapeake Bank Building at 7 St. Paul St.

Their theme song was:

"Me and my boyfriend,

"Me and my boyfriend,

My boyfriend and me,

We stick together

Like coffee and tea "

"We could never read music but that didn't stop us," she said laughing in the interview.

"In a typical episode, he'd come over and we'd talk for a while, kidding each other, and then we'd sing some new songs. The dialogue wasn't much, it filled time, and then we'd sing."

Mrs. Weyer was paid $10 a week and Mr. Godfrey $5.

"Sure, I got paid more because I was already established," she explained.

In 1931, Mr. Godfrey left and joined an NBC affiliate in Washington, on his way to becoming a national celebrity. They stayed in touch through the years, exchanging cards at Christmas.

The former Helen Meeks was born in South Baltimore. After graduating from Southern High School, she went to work as a clerk for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. While working there, she appeared in "Fair of the Iron Horse," the B&O's historic pageant that was held at Halethorpe in 1927.

Well-known in Baltimore, she also sang with notable local orchestras led by Lou Becker, who appeared at the Spanish Villa on the roof of the Southern Hotel, Bob Iula, Rufino Iula and Jack Lederer.

For years, she starred in the annual "Okay, Baltimore!," a local revue sponsored by the News-Post newspaper that was performed at Loew's Century.

"She had a beautiful voice and she didn't sing away but to the audience," said Clarisse Mechanic, a friend who owns Baltimore's Mechanic Theatre.

"She was so colorful and just bubbled," said Mrs. Mechanic, who often recruited Mrs. Weyer for performances at the Maryland Penitentiary.

In 1932, Mrs. Meeks married John E. Weyer, chairman of Union Trust Co., who died in 1985.

After the birth of their daughter in 1938, she retired from show business, but performed in local charity benefits.

She was a member of the Three Arts Club of Homeland and St. Elizabeth's School and Rehabilitation Center.

She was a communicant of St. David Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave., where services will be held at 10 a.m. today.

She is survived by a daughter, Susan W. Davenport of Towson; and two grandchildren.

Pub Date: 4/07/99

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