Meg Myles is best-known as one of the more adored pin-up models of the 1950s and early '60s, and as a serious stage actress with some notable film credits -- she also was a good enough singer to enjoy recording contracts with three major labels during the '50s and early '60s. Born Billie Jean Jones in Seattle, WA, she took dance lessons as a girl and was determined to try for a career in show business, later majoring in dance and health ed at the College of the Pacific. Her extraordinary physique led to her discovery by a talent agent and parts on television shows with Bob Hope, among other stars.
Her acting and performing skills improved during the early and mid-'50s as her experience broadened to include singing in nightclubs. She was still cast largely on the basis of her physique, which was impressive enough to make her a favorite of men's magazines of the era, but did include a musical thrust -- in the 1954 feature Dragnet, she did a cameo as a Cuban singer, and a larger appearance in Phil Karlson's fact-based feature The Phenix City Story (1955), in which she sang the title song. She'd already made some records for the Sunset label in 1954 and 1955, but her second movie appearance led to a national tour promoting the movie and "Phenix City Blues," and the release of the single by Capitol Records, which signed Myles to a contract. Although her records never sold in huge numbers, they proved a useful adjunct to her modeling and acting career as good efforts that proved that her talent ran deeper than her measurements -- even as she was being compared to Jayne Mansfield, the records provided tangible proof that there was some serious talent there. In 1957, Liberty Records picked up Myles' last Capitol sides for release; that same year, she appeared in the movie Calypso Heat Wave (which also included Joel Grey, the Treniers, the Tarriers, the Hi-Lo's and Maya Angelou), in a straight acting role. She also became a regular on Steve Allen's television series, where she was featured as a singer.
Allen's interest and exposure of her talents led Liberty Records to record Myles' first LP, Just Meg and Me, in which she was joined by Benny Goodman/Tommy Dorsey alumnus and Billie Holiday accompanist Jimmy Rowles, doing songs such as "You Made Me Love You," "More Than You Know," and "I Wanna Be Loved." Tiara Records also released a budget-priced LP of her early Sunset sides in 1958, entitled Passion in Paris. In 1961, she appeared in the movie Satan in High Heels, in which she sang "You Walked Out of My Life" and one other song. By this time, she was performing regularly at some of New York's best clubs, often accompanied by an early incarnation of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, and she recorded Meg Myles at the Living Room for Mercury Records with producer Quincy Jones. Alas, this was to be the end of her recording career, however -- as the '60s wore on, her brand of music became less potentially commercial, and by the middle of the decade, she was largely working as an actress on-stage and onscreen, performing at the New York Shakespeare Festival and in numerous successful movies, including Coogen's Bluff and The Anderson Tapes. She did re-emerge as a singer briefly in the early '90s in an AIDS benefit performance, doing music by Harold Arlen. ~ Bruce Eder