Remembered fondly by her classmates, Jaye P. was known by her given name of Mary Morgan when she would sing at school assemblies in the late 1940's accompanied on the guitar by her brother Duke.
"She always livened [up] the school assemblies when she performed," recalls a friend from that era.
It was also during that time when she earned the nickname the world would come to know her by. According to her classmates, Ms. Morgan was the class treasurer in 1947 and, as a result, began to be called "J.P." in reference to legendary financier John Pierpoint Morgan. The nickname stuck and Jaye P. clearly made the most of it.
About a year after attending Verdugo, Jaye P. had recorded the first of a long string of hit songs. The song that propelled her to stardom was her 1951 hit single "Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries," which made it into the Top Ten for several weeks.
And the hits kept on coming. By 1955, Jaye P. had five hit singles in one year including "That's All I Want From You" (to #5 on the charts), "The Longest Walk" (to #6),"Danger! Heartbreak Ahead" (to #12), "If You Don't Want My Love" (to #12), and "Pepper-Hot Baby" (to #14).
She went on to record many more popular songs during that decade including "Softly, Softly," Chee-Chee-Oo-Chee" with Perry Como, "Two Lost Souls," "My Bewildered Heart," "Not One Goodbye," "My Blind Date," and "Graduation Ring," among many others.
Her success as a recording artist also made her a star on the newly evolving medium of television where she was a regularly featured performer on Eddie Fisher's "Coke Time" variety show, the "Perry Como Show," the "Robert Q. Lewis Show," the "Ed Sullivan Show," and the "Tonight Show."
In 1956, Jaye P. even had her own television show appropriately entitled "The Jaye P. Morgan Show." Her show was a summer replacement for "Coke Time," and Jaye P. was assisted in her performances by brothers Duke, Bob, Charlie, and Dick.
During the 1960's, Jaye P. added acting to her repertoire with notable guest appearances on the very popular show "My Three Sons," the Fred MacMurray sitcom that still has the distinction of being the second-longest running network sitcom after "Ozzie and Harriet." She sang the theme song to the controversial 1965 film John Goldfarb, Please Come Home, which starred Richard Crenna, Shirley Maclaine, Peter Ustinov and Jim Backus. And she donated her talents to Jerry Lewis' Muscular Dystrophy Telethons.
By the the 1970's, Jaye P. had reinvented herself as a much sought-after game show panelist. Jaye P. appeared on such shows as Tom Kennedy's "You Don't Say," "Break the Bank," "Hollywood Squares," and the "$1.98 Beauty Show." But, she is probably most recognized for her regular appearances on Chuck Barris' "The Gong Show," reruns of which are still featured on cable TV and have engendered a cult-like following among some viewers.
Jaye P. appeared on the popular comedy series "The Odd Couple" and was the featured guest on an episode of "The Muppet Show." She also recorded the theme song to the 1975 NBC sitcom "Fay," starring Lee Grant.
In the 1980's, Jaye P. appeared in several feature films including "The Gong Show Movie," "Loose Shoes," and "Night Patrol." She also went on tour with the Broadway stage production of "Sugar Babies," with Eddie Bracken. In 1992, Jaye P. was featured in the film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
And in 1998, at a time when most of her classmates were in retirement, Jaye P. returned to her days in high school with a tour of the stage production "Swing, Swing, Swing!" Also featuring Tommy Sands and his orchestra, the production was a celebration of the big band sounds and songs of the 1940's that were undoubtedly Jaye P.'s inspiration to become a singer.
It is very fitting that, at the time of her "Swing, Swing, Swing!" tour, the big band sound and swing dancing had, once again, become very popular with the students at Verdugo Hills High School who were resurrecting the music and the moves of a former era at school dances and talent shows on the eve of a new millennium. We're sure that Ms. Morgan would heartily approve!
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) as Celebrity #2
Night Patrol (1984) as Kate
The Gong Show Movie (1980) as Herself
Loose Shoes (1980) aka "Coming Attractions" as the Stop-It Nurse
The All-American Boy (1973) as Magda
Adventures of Nick Carter (1972) as the Plush Horse Singer
"Coke Time" (1955)
"The Perry Como Show" (1955)
"The Jaye P. Morgan Show" (1956)
"Holiday On Ice" (1956) revue with Sonja Henie
"The Robert Q. Lewis Show" (1950's)
"The Ed Sullivan Show" (1958)
"Stop the Music" (1950's)
"Perry Presents" (1959)
"Accent On Love" (1959) musical revue with Ginger Rogers and Louis Jourdan
"My Three Sons" (1964) playing a nightclub singer in the episode entitled "Second Chorus"
"My Three Sons" (1966) playing "Claudia Farrell" in the episode entitled "A Falling Star"
"You Don't Say" (1969) gameshow panelist
"Mantrap" (1971) a regular on the gameshow rework of te 1950's "Leave It To The Girls"
"The Odd Couple" (1973) as herself in the episode entitled "The Songwriters"
"The Gong Show" (1976-80) gameshow regular
"The Muppet Show" (1977) as Herself
"The $1.98 Beauty Show" (1978) gameshow panelist