The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi
The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi (m. F. Dudleigh Vernor, w. Byron D. Stokes) — 1911
- The Sigma Chi Historical Initiative
- Article “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi at Albion College” at The Pink and Green
Excerpt from Wikipedia:
Stokes had written the words while in class one June day that year , and presented them that afternoon to Vernor, who was practicing the piano in a local house, and composed the music at that time. The song has since become a favorite among ballroom orchestras and was used in two movie musicals of the same name, in 1933 and 1946. When asked about the song’s inspiration, Stokes replied, “The ‘Sweetheart’ is the symbol for the spiritual ingredient in brotherhood. It was the Sigma Chi Fraternity itself that inspired the song. I wrote the words not long after my initiation, and the magic of our Ritual with its poetic overtones and undertones was, I suppose, the source of my inspiration”. The original musical composition remained on campus until 2007 when it was lost and not recovered.
The song was first sung by Harry Clifford* (Albion ’11), who later drew the cover for the original sheet music published by Vernor’s brother Harry Vernor (Albion ’13). The song became a big band hit, has been performed in film and television, and continues to be recognized around the world. Through the years many people have tried to pin the title of “original sweetheart” on many women, however the two most likely candidates are Elsie Munro (Vernor’s girlfriend) and Helen Beall Russell, who lived next to the old chapter house. Either way since then the concept of the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi has gained popularity all across the world with the adoption of sweethearts at every chapter and even an international sweetheart. 
Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians — Recorded on 3 June 1927. According the Victor ledger, the vocal refrain is by “Tom Waring and orchestra,” but it sounds like Tom is backed by a small female vocal group, possibly the “Three Girl Friends” aka the “Three Waring Girls” (See photo of the vocal trio at our feature page on Porter’s Love For Sale.). The single was issued in October 1927 as Victor 20820, b/w Sweetheart Memories (Benny Davis, Joe Burke).
The profile of the song at The Sigma Chi Historical Initiative indicates that this was the most popular recording of the song, with Gene Austin’s 1927 recording a close second.
Gene Austin — recorded on 16 September 1927; issued as the B-side of the 78 rpm single Are You Happy? (m. Milton Ager, w. Jack Yellen), Victor 20977
White Way Dance Orchestra — recorded in September 1927 and issued as Grey Gull 1477, b/w Sporting (The Game I Love to Play), a recording by Mike Mosiello and His Hot Peppers
Allen McQuhae — recorded in November 1927; issued in 1928 as Brunswick 3793, c/w Charmaine (Erno Rapee, Lew Pollack)
Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra — recorded on 14 June 1941; issued as Decca 25228, b/w Dream Girl Of P.I.K.A. (Ernest Shields)
Carmen Cavallaro — recorded on 3 September 1941; issued as the B-side of Decca 4056, Girl of My Dreams (Sunny Clapp)
Cliff Edwards — Although the video dates the recording 1933, the provider dates it October 1943, in a comment below the video at YouTube.
F. Dudleigh Vernor — piano solo recorded in the 1950s, according to the description attached to the video; the audio is here accompanied by a “photo montage celebrating the 100th anniversary of the song.”
The Chordettes – 1952
The Crew Cuts — from the 1954** LP The Crew Cuts On the Campus
From the Wikipedia profile of the group:
They were playing in a Sudbury, Ontario, night club in a sub-zero Canadian winter when they received notice that they had been invited to appear as a guest on a Cleveland television program. They drove 600 miles at -40° temperatures to appear on the Gene Carroll show, where they remained for three appearances. While in Cleveland, they met local disc jockey Bill Randle. On his show, on Cleveland radio station WERE (1300 AM), he coined the name that would, from that point on, belong to the group. In addition, Randle arranged for them to audition with Mercury Records, who liked them enough to sign the quartet to a contract. [read more]
Ben Webster — first track, side one on his 1961*** LP The Warm Moods
Les Elgart — from the 1966 Harmony Records LP The Greatest Dance Band In The Land
The Fireside Singers — recording date unknown — from the 2007 Reader’s Digest Music collection In The Good Old Summertime: American Parlor Music
* Spelling corrected from “Cliford.”
** Allmusic.com says the album was released in 1954, but other sites, including discogs.com, date it 1956.
*** While allmusic.com gives recording dates of 18 and 19 January 1960, and a release date of 1961 for the album, some sites (and the video provider) indicate that it was released in January 1960.