Mel Torme was one of the best American male jazz singers and composers of the 20th Century. He wrote or co-wrote more than 250 songs including a Christmastime standard that opens with the lyrics "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire." It was recorded by fellow Chicagoan Nat King Cole in 1946. He was also a movie star, radio and TV star, and an author.
Notwithstanding his fame for seasonal songs of Christmas, Mel Torme was born on the south side of Chicago to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants on Sept. 23, 1925. From about the age of four he was recognized as a child prodigy. While barely in grade school he was singing as a child star for the Coon Sanders Orchestra at the Blackhawk Restaurant at 139 N. Wabash.
Mel was only age seven in 1933 when he won a talent competition for child singers at the Century of Progress World's Fair. The competition led to his work as a child star on two of the most famous radio serials of the time, The Romance of Helen Trent and Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy.