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Jazz singer turned actor Annie Ross dies at 89

Annie Ross rose to fame as the lead vocalist of one of jazz’s most well-respected groups, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. The trio became known for the 1952 hit "Twisted,” a tune by saxophonist Wardell Gray and written by Ross.

By: AP | Los Angeles |
July 23, 2020 12:50:07 pm
British jazz singer Annie Ross with actor Sean Lynch after their marriage in London in 1963. (Photo: AP/File)

Annie Ross, a popular jazz singer in the 1950s before crossing over into a successful film career, has died. She was 89.

Ross’ manager, Jim Coleman, told the Washington Post that the entertainer died Tuesday at her home in New York, four days before her 90th birthday. She had battled emphysema and heart disease.

Ross rose to fame as the lead vocalist of one of jazz’s most well-respected groups, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. The trio became known for the 1952 hit “Twisted,” a tune by saxophonist Wardell Gray and written by Ross.

A decade later, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross went on to win a Grammy Award for the album High Flying.

Despite the success, Ross decided to leave the group while feuding with group member Jon Hendricks while she battled heroin addiction.

Ross eventually cleaned up her life, married English actor Sean Lynch and ran a nightclub for a short stint in London. But around 1975, she declared bankruptcy, lost her home and divorced Lynch, who soon died in a car crash.

While Ross struggled to find work as a singer, she turned her attention to acting. She appeared in plays such as A View From the Bridge along with the musical production The Pirates of Penzance.

Ross broke through as a familiar face in the 1979 film Yanks, which led to other roles. She appeared as a villain in Superman III, a writing student in Throw Momma From the Train and an aging jazz singer in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, which helped revive her career.

Ross ultimately reinvented herself as a witty cabaret singer. Despite her transition, she received the Jazz Master honor from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2010.

In 2014, Ross released the album To Lady With Love, a tribute to Billie Holiday. She often performed at the Metropolitan Room until the venue closed in 2017.

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