Big band singer Billy Daniels, who hit the big time with the 1946 song "Old Black Magic" from the movie "Star Spangled Rhythm," died Friday of stomach cancer. He was 73.
Daniels, who had been diagnosed with cancer in August, died at the Norris Cancer Hospital and Research Institute at the University of Southern California.
Born the son of a railroad mail clerk, Daniels started in show business as a Depression-era singing waiter in a New York City speak-easy.
He first sang "Old Black Magic" at the Harlem Club in Atlantic City as a last-minute addition to his act, pulling the tune out of stack of sheet music just before he went on stage.
For more than 40 years, the song remained a staple of his shows, including his performances in July at the Del Webb's Claridge Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.
Daniels went back to singing this summer after quadruple heart bypass surgery last year.
"He was a superstar to me and he was a superstar to millions of others," said Perry Daniels, his wife of 33 years.
Daniels also won the London Critics Award in 1978 for best musical performance in "Bubblin' Brown Sugar."