Corky Hale

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Corky Hale (born on July 3, 1936) has been a working jazz musician since the late 1950s. As an in-demand session player, she has traveled across the United States and throughout Europe, playing harp, piano and flute, and singing. In addition to her musical talent, Hale has been a theater producer, political activist, a restaurateur and even the owner of a once-famous Los Angeles women's clothing store, "Corky Hale."

Early life

On July 3, 1936, Hale was born as Marilyn Hecht in Freeport, Illinois. Corky was raised in a small midwestern town where she been playing piano at the age of three.


At seven, she was enrolled in classical piano studies at the Chicago Conservatory. It was here that she also became interested in the harp, and a life in music was born. In addition to her classical studies, she learned to love and play show tunes and standards, and soon embraced the jazz sounds of Stan Kenton.

At age 16, Corky's parents enrolled her in Stephens College, a school for young ladies, for her last year of high school. After graduation, Corky announced to her parents that she was moving to Hollywood to be a musician, whereupon her father immediately sent her to nearby University of Wisconsin–Madison. But it was too late; she’d been bitten by the "show biz bug," and after one year, she announced that now she was definitely going to Hollywood. A compromise was reached: Her parents would drive her to Los Angeles and enroll her at UCLA, where she would live in the sorority house. However, life as a sorority house girl lasted only a few weeks.


While attending UCLA, Hale's music career in Los Angeles began when an opportunity arose to play harp on the "Freddie Martin Show."

Since the 1950s, Hale has amassed a long list of performance and recording credentials, including sessions, TV shows and concerts with Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elkie Brooks, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Harry James, Peggy Lee, James Brown, Spike Jones, George Michael and Björk, to name a few.

Hale has also produced plays, including Give 'Em Hell, Harry, starring Jason Alexander and Lullaby of Broadway, a personal profile of the lyricist Al Dubin.

Hale has appeared live at Vibrato.[1][2] , Catalina Bar & Grill, The White House and the Kennedy Center.

In 2009, Hale held a launch party for her new CD.[3][4][5]


Corky has been active outside of the performing arena:

  • At the University of Wisconsin, Corky was one of the first, and one of the few white students to join the NAACP.
  • She was a birth control teacher at Planned Parenthood in New York, and is on the National Advisory Board of NARAL and on the Board of WRRAP.
  • She is an American Film Institute associate.
  • She is founder of Angel Harvest, an organization which redistributes unused foods from restaurants, hotels, and events, to the hungry and needy people of greater Los Angeles.

Personal life

In the late 1960s, Hale moved to New York. In 1970, Hale married Mike Stoller.



With Les McCann

With Nina Simone


  • Corky Hale – Plays George Gershwin & Vernon Duke (GNP Crescendo) (1975)
  • Harp Beat (US Stash 1985, UK Affinity 1986)


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Live Jazz: Corky Hale", International Review of Music, March 2, 2009, Don Heckman
  3. ^ "Corky Hale and Friends- I'm Glad There Is You' CD Launch Party Features Performances By Kellerman, Hale, Shaw & More", Broadway World, September 23, 2009
  4. ^ "Corky Hale Launches Latest CD", Beverly Hills Courier, 10/02/2009 Archived 2011-07-07 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^[permanent dead link]

External links

  • Musician's website, City Cabaret
  • Musician's website
  • "Corky Hale", discogs
  • Looking Back: Brother/sister are credit to native city
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