Big band leader Wayne King, known as the "Waltz King" of the 1930s and 1940s, died Tuesday night. He was 84.
The alto saxophonist, a longtime Phoenix-area resident, developed his fondness for the waltz during his dance group's regular engagements at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago in the early 1930s. His theme song was "The Waltz You Saved For Me."
King's sound became widely associated with products manufactured by a small cosmetics company. The firm hired King's band to play for a weekly radio show pushing its products and paid the group $500 per show. "The Lady Esther Serenade" became one of the most popular shows on radio. Sales figures for the cosmetic line soared, and King was paid $15,000 a week.
The show was most popular with matrons, who responded with swoons to King's lushly romantic music, interspersed with poetry readings. Among the singers who appeared with King's band were Bob Eberly and Buddy Clark.
King was particularly popular in Chicago and the Midwest and, from 1949 to 1952, he had a television program on NBC that was broadcast only in that region. He remained active into the 1970s.