Bobby Breen, From Child Star to Motown to Sgt. Pepper’s

“Ombra mai fu” from film Fisherman’s Wharf–Watch on YouTube

Bobby Breen was a child star in a class with other young actor/singers like Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney. According to imdb, he was in nine films between 1936’s Let’s Sing Again and 1942’s Johnny Doughboy, always in a role that would showcase his choirboy soprano.

Born Isadore Borsuk, Breen (November 4, 1927-September 19, 2016) eventually grew out of the voice that had secured his position in Hollywood, and he had to seek out other venues for his talent. One place, somewhat improbably, was with Motown, where founder Berry Gordy signed Breen. Gordy never released an album under Breen’s name, realizing that the singer didn’t really fit the Motown brand that he was building at the time. A few singles survive.

Breen’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album credit is, alas, not for his music, but for his image, which appears on the iconic, celebrity-rich cover. Breen appears in the front row, wedged between George Harrison and Marlene Dietrich.

“Better Late Than Never” on Spotify