Dubbed "the most famous supper-club performer who ever lived" by no less than Liberace, cabaret icon Hildegarde headlined nightclubs across the globe for close to seven decades, along the way igniting the now-common vogue for single-named celebrity. She was born Hildegarde Loretta Sell in Adell, WI, on February 1, 1906 -- her mother was an organist and the director of the church choir -- and raised from the age of 12 in Milwaukee, beginning her professional music career four years later as the house pianist at a local cinema. After studying music at Marquette University, Hildegarde spent two years as a member of a vaudeville troupe, followed by a stint as an accompanist-for-hire behind a series of singers. While living in Camden, NJ, she befriended budding songwriter Anna Sosenko, and agreed to sing Sosenko's compositions during meetings with publishers. Eventually, Hildegarde landed work as a song plugger for Irving Berlin as well, but Sosenko would prove the primary architect of her career, and the two women lived and worked together for close to a quarter century.