#27: My Heart Stood Still by Bernadette Carroll

City: Halifax, NS
Radio Station: CHNS
Peak Month: December  1962
Peak Position in Halifax ~ #5
Peak position in Vancouver ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “My Heart Stood Still
Lyrics: “My Heart Stood Still

Bernadette Dalia was born in 1944 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Bernadette’s first performance was at the age of seven, given a role in an elementary school play. Soon after her family moved to Linden, New Jersey, she became a bit of a reckless teenager. She’d sneak out late at night to go to local recording studios with her friends. In 1959, she joined with sisters Barbara Allbut, Jiggs Allbut and, Lynda Malzone to form a group called The Starlets. Their first recording, on the Astro label, was “PS I Love You.” The single was a Top 30 hit on WMCA in New York City in 1960. Bernadette graduated from Linden High School in in Linden, New Jersey, in 1962. After The Starlets disbanded, Bernadette made her first solo recording for the Julia label, “My Heart Stood Still.”

My Heart Stood Still by Bernadette Carroll

“My Heart Stood Still” is a song written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. It was written for the Charles Cochran revue One Dam’ Thing after Another, which opened at the London Pavilion on May 19, 1927. It ran for 237 performances.

In March 1927, Rodgers and Hart had traveled to Paris from London to meet with the arranger Robert Russell Bennett, also an American, to try to persuade him to orchestrate the songs for their upcoming London revue, One Dam’ Thing After Another. On their way back to Paris from a sightseeing expedition to Versailles, a truck came within a hair of demolishing the cab the two songwriters, along with their two female companions, were riding in. As the truck rattled by, one of the young women cried out in apparent fright, “Oh! My heart stood still!” Without losing a beat, Hart, apparently unaffected by what must have been a nerve jangling moment, instantly urged the unfailingly conscientious Rodgers to make a note of her exclamation as a potential song title. Hart’s partner faithfully jotted it down in his address book and upon coming across the note, only after they had returned to London, proceeded to construct a melody.

Rodgers and Hart later included “My Heart Stood Still” in the musical A Connecticut Yankee. The musical opened on Broadway at the Vanderbilt Theatre (148 West 48th Street) on November 3, 1927, and closed on October 27, 1928, running for 421 performances. Other songs from the musical include “Thou Swell” and “To Keep My Love Alive”.

In the original version there is an intro that opens the song with these lines:
I laughed at sweethearts I met at schools,
all indiscreet hearts seemed romantic fools.
A house in Iceland was my heart’s domain,
I saw your eyes, now castles rise in Spain.

Omitting the intro, Bernadette Carroll picked up the first verses in her cover of the song, to contrast her feet and lips that could still move, while her heart stood still. The reason for her stillness was taking one look at a guy. The lyrics tell: “Though not a single word was spoken, I could tell you knew.”

The original contained another verse which was cut from the rock adaptation. Here is what they also sang in London and on Broadway in 1927:
Through all my school days I hated boys.
Those April Fool days brought me loveless joys.
I read my Plato. Love I thought a sin.
But since your kiss, I’m reading Mrs. Glynn.

Early pressings of “My Heart Stood Still” were credited only to ‘Bernadette.’ A second pressing was credited to ‘Bernadette Carroll.’ In the fall and winter of 1962 “My Heart Stood Still” charted into the Top Ten in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Richard Rodgers was born in 1902 into a Jewish family in Queens, New York. He studied at the Institute of Musical Art (the forerunner of the Juilliard School). Lorenz Hart was born in Harlem, NYC, to a Jewish family in 1895. After studying at Columbia University, Hart was introduced to Rodgers in 1919. Their first musical opened on Broadway in 1920 titled Poor Little Ritz Girl. His 1925 revue – Garrick Gaieties – featured the pop standard “Manhattan”. Other pop standards emerged in successive musicals for the songwriting duo. These include”You Took Advantage Of Me” from Present Arms (1928), “Dancing On The Ceiling” from Ever Green (1930), “Ten Cents A Dance” from Simple Simon (1930), and “Where Or When”, “The Lady Is A Tramp”, “I Wish I Were In Love Again” and “My Funny Valentine” from Babes In Arms (1937), “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” from Too Many Girls (1939), “It Never Entered My Mind” from Higher and Higher (1940), and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” from Pal Joey (1941).

Lorenz Hart died at the age of 48, spurred on by alcoholism. Before Hart died, Rodgers and Hart had composed over 500 songs for Broadway musicals. The year Hart died, Richard Rodgers began to collaborate with Oscar Hammerstein II. The pair wrote many notable musicals including Oklahoma, State Fair, Carousel, South Pacific, The King And I, The Flower Drum Song and The Sound Of Music.

In the summer of 1963, Bernadette Carroll collaborated with Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi of The Four Seasons to record the song “Nicky,” written by Massi and Bob Gaudio. It was Carroll’s first single for the Laurie label. But in November 1963, aside from Worcester, Massachusetts, “Nicky” got little airplay.

For her next single, Bernadette Carroll recorded “Party Girl”. It was a number-one hit in Vancouver (BC) for two weeks in May 1964.

A followup single in the summer of ’64, “Happy Birthday”, got some chart action in Pittsburgh, Manchester (NH), and a few radio markets in southern California. In the winter of 1964-65 “The Hero” was a #1 hit in Taylorsville (NC) and #5 in Miami. The song was about a boyfriend named Johnny who was the hero of the football team. Johnny led his team to many victories. Sue planned to marry Johnny after they graduated from high school. But Sue learns from her friend Patty that Johnny just died when a bus with the football team “turns over and everybody was killed.” Sue’s plans to get married are dashed. The song is one of many teen tragedy songs from the late ’50s to the mid-’60s.

In 1964, a group called The Rhythm Ramblers recorded a tribute to Bernadette Carroll called “Pretty Bernadette”.

In the mid-60’s, Bernadette teamed up with Denise Ferri and Peggy Santiglia to do be back-up singers for Connie Francis, Patty Duke, Bobby Hebb and Frankie Valli (one of which is featured in the hit musical Jersey Boys). The trio backed up for Lou Christie’s #1 “Lightning Strikes” and the follow-up “Rhapsody in the Rain.” They also recorded a Pepsi-Cola commercial with Lou, “Come alive, you’re in the Pepsi generation,” which was a classic of the times and recorded by several different recording artists.

In 1966, Carroll was a member of Jessica James & the Outlaws, along with lead singer Peggy Santiglia (lead singer of The Angels). They released the Bob Crewe-Bob Gaudio produced singles “Give Her Up Baby” and “We’ll Be Making Out”. They deserved to be hits, but got passed over. The latter single became an underground hit in the following decades in England. Carroll also was a backing singer for Frankie Valli on “You’re Ready Now”, which failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100. Valli had better promotional success with the Philips label, and Smash Records didn’t give the energetic “You’re Ready Now” the push it needed. As well, Jessica James & the Outlaws backed Patty Duke on her minor 1966 hit “Whenever She Holds You”.

Jessica James & the Outlaws also backed traditional pop star Kitty Kallen on her non-charting single “One Grain Of Sand”. Kallen had her first number-one hit in 1944 with “Bésame Mucho”. Her career began with a splash on a #2 hit record with Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra in 1943 with “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old”. Kitty Kallen was lead vocalist on the number-one hits with Harry James and his Orchestra: “I’m Beginning To See The Light” and “It’s Been A Long, Long Time”, both in 1945. Her final number-one hit record was “Little Things Mean A Lot” in 1954. She charted 14 singles into the Top Ten in the USA between 1943 and 1954. “”One Grain Of Sand” was produced by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio. It was Kitty Kallen’s second to last recorded disc. Bernadette Carroll also sang backing vocals on a few discs recorded by Connie Francis and Bobby Hebb.

In 1968, Bernadette Carroll became the lead singer of The Angels of “My Boyfriend’s Back” fame. At the time, The Angels recorded four sides for RCA Records, including “The Boy With The Green Eyes,” written by Neil Diamond. She toured with them for one year. In addition, Carroll also toured with the folk group who called themselves The Serendipity Singers and are best known for their hit, “Don’t Let The Rain Come Down”.

In 2017, Bernadette Carroll’s non-charting singles, “Laughing on the Outside (Crying on the Inside)” and “Care a Little”, gained popularity when they were featured on the soundtrack of the dark comedy-drama British Channel 4 TV series The End of the F***ing World. “Laughing on the Outside” was subsequently re-issued in 2017.

Married for 38 years to Anthony Dente at her time of death, Bernadette Carroll Dente was 74 years old. She had been living in West Palm Beach, Florida, when she died of cancer.

February 28, 2024
Ray McGinnis

R.I.P. Bernadette Carroll,” Steve Hoffman Music Forum, October 6, 2018.
Bernadette’s Obituary,” Tillman Funeral Home, October 7, 2018.
Bernadette Carroll, “The Hero“, Laurie Records, 1964.
Ranya Barrett, “10 Ways to Tell He’s Lying,” Glamour, August 17, 2009.
Frankie Valli, “You’re Ready Now“, Smash Records, 1966.
Jessica James & the Outlaws, “We’ll Be Making Out“, Bronco Records, 1966.
Jessica James and the Outlaws,” Jersey Girls Sing.
Lou Christie with Jessica James & the Outlaws, “Come Alive, You’re in the Pepsi Generation,” Pepsi-Cola, 1966.
Kitty Kallen, “One Grain Of Sand“, Philips Records, 1966.
Soundtrack: The End of the F***ing World,” Channel 4, London, UK, 2017.
Joe Knapp, “New Oldies – I Don’t Wanna Know by Bernadette Carroll,” December 24, 2011.
Lyricist half of Broadway’s Rodgers and Hart: Wrote 26 Broadway Musicals,” Songwriters Hall Of Fame.
Frederick Nolan, Lorenz Hart: A Poet On BroadwayOxford University Press, 1994.
Meryle Secrest, Somewhere For Me: A Biography of Richard RodgersKnopf, 2001.
Ray McGinnis, “Party Girl by Bernadette Carroll,” vancouversignaturesounds.com, June 6, 2022.

My Heart Stood Still by Bernadette Carroll

CHNS 960-AM Halifax (NS) Top Ten | December 16, 1962

2 responses to “My Heart Stood Still by Bernadette Carroll”

  1. Judy Hill says:

    Interesting stuff, Ray. Thanks!

  2. Ray says:

    Thanks Judy!

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