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Helen Reddy (1941)

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Helen Reddy , often referred to as "The Queen of 70s Pop", is an Australian-American singer and actress. In the 1970s, she enjoyed international success, especially in the United States, where she placed fifteen singles in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. Six of those 15 songs made the Top 10 and three of those songs reached No. 1, including her signature hit "I Am Woman." She also placed 25 singles on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. Fifteen of those singles made the Top 10 and 8 of those reached No. 1. She was also the first Australian to win a Grammy Award and to have three #1 hits in the same year. In television, Helen was the first Australian to host her own one-hour weekly primetime variety show on an American network, along with several specials that were seen in over forty countries. Helen retired from live performance in 2002 and now practises as a clinical hypnotherapist and motivational speaker. She lives in Australia.

In the Second-wave feminism, her song "I Am Woman" played a large role in popular culture and became a feminist anthem. Reddy came to be known as a "feminist poster girl" or a "feminist icon".


 early years
Reddy was born into a well-known Australian show business family in Melbourne, where she attended Tintern Girls Grammar School. Her mother, Stella Campbell (née Lamond), was an actress, and her father, Maxwell David "Max" Reddy, was a writer, producer and actor. Her half-sister, Toni Lamond, and her nephew, Tony Sheldon, are actor-singers. Reddy is of part Irish descent on her father's side. Her maternal grandfather, Colin Lamond, was a one-time mayor of Waterloo, New South Wales, and her maternal grandmother was actress Stella Coffey.

At age four, Reddy joined her parents on the Australian vaudeville circuit, singing and dancing; she'd recall: "It was instilled in me: You will be a star. So between the ages of 12 and 17 I got rebellious and decided this was not for me. I was going to be a housewife and mother." Reddy's teenage rebellion in favor of domesticity manifested as marriage to Kenneth Claude Weate, a considerably older musician and family friend; divorce ensued within a few months, and to support herself as a single mother – daughter Traci having been born several months after the divorce – Reddy resumed her performing career, concentrating on singing, as health problems precluded dancing . Reddy sang on radio and television, eventually winning a talent contest on the Australian pop music TV show Bandstand, the prize ostensibly being a trip to New York City to cut a single for Mercury Records. After arriving in New York in 1966, Reddy was informed by Mercury that her prize was only the chance to audition for the label, and that Mercury considered the Bandstand footage to constitute her audition, which was deemed unsuccessful. Despite possessing only $200 and a return ticket to Australia, Reddy elected to remain in the US with three-year-old Traci and pursue a singing career.

Reddy would recall her 1966 appearance at the Three Rivers Inn in Syracuse, New York – "there were like twelve people in the audience" – as typical of her early US performing career. In fact, the lack of working papers made it difficult to obtain any singing jobs in the US, and she was forced to make several trips to Canada where, being a Commonwealth country like Australia, she had the right to work. In the spring of 1968, Martin St. James – a hypnotist/entertainer and fellow Australian Reddy had met in New York City – threw Reddy a party with an admission price of five dollars to enable Reddy – then down to her last $12 – to make her rent. It was on this occasion that Reddy met her future manager and husband Jeff Wald, a 22-year-old secretary at the William Morris Agency who crashed the party: Reddy told People in 1975, " didn't pay the five dollars, but it was love at first sight.".

Wald would recall that he and Reddy married three days after meeting, and along with daughter Traci, the couple took up residence at the Hotel Albert in Greenwich Village. Reddy would later state that she married Wald "out of desperation over her right to work and live in the United States". According to New York Magazine, Wald was fired from William Morris soon after having met Reddy, and "Helen supported them for six months doing $35-a-night hospital and charity benefits. They were so broke that they sneaked out of a hotel room carrying their clothes in paper bags." Reddy would recall: "When we did eat, it was spaghetti, and we spent what little money we had on cockroach spray." They left New York City for Chicago and Wald landed a job as talent coordinator at Mister Kelly's. While in Chicago, Reddy gained a reputation singing in local lounges – including Mister Kelly's – and, in the spring of 1968, she landed a deal with Fontana Records, a division of major label Chicago-based Mercury Records. Her first single, "One Way Ticket", on Fontana was not an American hit, but it did give Reddy her first ever appearance on any chart as it peaked at #83 in her native Australia.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Helen Reddy", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.