Helen Forrest, 82, a big band singer whose more than 500 recorded songs included "All the Things You Are" with Artie Shaw and "The Man I Love" with Benny Goodman, died July 11 at the Motion Picture and Television Country Home and Hospital in Los Angeles. She had congestive heart failure and pneumonia.
Born Helen Fogel in Atlantic City, N.J., the singer was the nation's top-rated female vocalist in 1942, winning both the Down Beat poll and the Metronome poll, which both ranked Frank Sinatra as the top male vocalist for that year.
She performed with Shaw and Goodman before World War II and then with Harry James.
Especially good with a ballad, Miss Forrest was known for her warm, melodic style and nuanced interpretation of lyrics. Describing her own style, she once told Look magazine, "I try to sing so a guy can picture soft lights and his girl."
One of her songs, "I Don't Want to Walk Without You," became an anthem for women left alone during World War II.
Miss Forrest sang what became her signature song, "I Had the Craziest Dream," in the 1942 film "Springtime in the Rockies." Miss Forrest had appeared in several movies with James, with whom she was having a secret romance.
But their affair ended after James met and fell in love with film star Betty Grable during the filming. James and Grable ultimately married, and Forrest left James's band to pursue a solo career. Miss Forrest later used the song title, "I Had the Craziest Dream," for her 1982 autobiography.
Always a champion of civil rights for fellow performers, Miss Forrest, who was white, refused to appear on stage with Shaw until her fellow singer, Billie Holliday, who was black, also was permitted to appear by theater owners. In 1940, she further broke tradition by recording with Lionel Hampton and his all-black orchestra.
Among Miss Forrest's classic recordings with Shaw were "Any Old Time," "I'm in Love With the Honorable Mr. So and So" and "All the Things You Are." Her hits recorded with Goodman included "The Man I Love," "Taking a Chance on Love" and "More than You Know."
Other notable hit recordings for Forrest were "You'll Never Know" and "But Not for Me." Most of her extensive albums have been re-created on compact disc.
Miss Forrest also sang for many years with crooner Dick Haymes on a long-running radio show. She also performed in supper clubs and in the studio. A last album was released in 1983 by Stash Records. She continued to sing until rheumatoid arthritis began affecting her vocal chords in the early 1990s.
Married and divorced three times, Miss Forrest is survived by her only son, Michael Forrest Feinman.