Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Cooke, Lainie, singer, actor; b. Minneapolis, MN, 22 July 1941. She was born to Leonard (b.1913) and Florence (b. Bellman, 1917) Katz, first of four daughters (sisters: Harriet, b 1944; Corky, b 1947; and Sandi, b 1951). First radio appearance at age 6, singing on the WCCO Cedric Adams Talent Show; went on to win first prize at the age of 7.
First appeared on television at age 11, KSTP TV with host Jimmy Valentine, on local "Dialing for Dollars" quiz show as the Junior Hostess. Started singing with dance bands at the age of 14 (Jerry Mayeron, Dick & Don Maw), continued touring the upper Midwest playing the last of the ballrooms, all through high school. Also entertained with various troupes of other young performers entertaining in theaters, hospitals, and prisons. She was awarded a Scholarship to the University of Minnesota Theater Department in 1959 and appeared in many productions there culminating in a summer on the University's Showboat, in a production of "Bloomer Girl", directed by Frank Whiting; also appeared as a member of the Minneapolis Repertory Theater.
In 1961, after two years of college, left for New York City, studied Musical Comedy at the HB Studios with Charles Nelson Reilly and Georgia Brown; voice with Maria Farnworth. Married in 1964 and began a successful career as a voiceover actor; heard in literally hundreds of commercials and campaigns for products that include Jean Nate, McDonalds, Schick, Ford, Depends, Ideal Toys, Maybelline, Nutri System, etc., as well as a variety of promos, industrials, trailers and infomercials.
In 1973 she left New York City and moved with her husband to Jamaica, West Indies, where they, together with a friend/partner, ran a poultry farm and restaurant business. Began singing with Cecil Lloyd's big band composed of some of the best hotel musicians on the island performing in monthly concerts across the island.
In 1976 she returned to New York where she and David Lahm renewed their musical partnership and worked as a duo at Ceils on 9th Avenue. In 1978 she divorced and moved to Los Angeles. Probably the only person in history who moved to LA to sing jazz, she performed regularly at many clubs in the Southland, including The Money Tree, Carmelo's, The Room Upstairs at LeCafe, etc. She was bi-coastal for 3 years and then moved back to NYC in 1981 where she worked regularly with Chris White (bass) and Marvin Horne (guitar) in a number of club and cabaret settings.
She left the scene temporarily in the mid to late 80's but in the early 90's she began appearing again with frequent appearances at Judy*s in New York; Chadneys and Spazio on the West Coast. During this time Cooke continued her career as a voice over actor. She was also the writer-narrator for a radio series called Jazz Master Profiles which appeared exclusively on Ken Webb's Jazz In The City.
In 1994 she was elected to the local board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and in 1995 to the National Board. She currently serves on both boards.
Here's to Life (2002)
Interview in Jazz Improv Vol 4, Number 4, Summer 2004.