Norma Jean Speranza was born on September 30, 1935, the youngest of five children. Her father, Bernard Speranza, worked in a coal mine in Kiski Township, Pennsylvania; When Norma became Jean Jill, she bought it for him and renamed it Corey Mine. Her mother, Clara (Grant) Speranza, died when she was 4 years old.
Her first appearances in the amateur lessons of the school were not unforgettable: typically enthusiastic Carmen Miranda imitations, for which she took last place. However, when she was 13, she won a Lion’s Club sponsored talent competition that featured a spot on local radio. The next year she was hired by a local orchestra to sing standards, $ 5 a night, 7 days a week. For the demo she sent to Mr. Miller, she sang a Tony Bennett song: “Since My Love Has Gone”.
She sang often at home, said Ms. Hoak, her only immediate survivor. Ms. Corey sang her daughter to sleep – mostly Judy Garland and Billie Holiday – so much that her daughter complained, “Don’t you know any happy songs?”
Ms. Corey’s voice remained distinctive and it retained its flair. A few years ago she fell into her house and called 911. When the fire department emergency team arrived, she received them with typical calm, a scotch in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
The firefighters shrank from the cigarette.
Ms. Hoak remembered: “Mom said to you: ‘Oh come on! You guys know how to put out a fire, don’t you? «”