ORONO, Maine — The late entertainer and one-time University of Maine student Rudy Vallee was remembered Wednesday afternoon on the steps of Fogler Library.
Members of UMaine’s four honor societies — All Maine Women, the Senior Skull Society, the Sophomore Eagles Society and the Sophomore Owls Society — gathered there to sing the “Maine Stein Song,” which Vallee popularized.
The event was held to celebrate Rudy Vallee Day, which was established by then-Gov. James B. Longley on Oct. 11, 1975, when Vallee returned to UMaine for the Class of 1925′s 50th reunion. It was the last time he visited the university before his death more than 10 years later.
“We had to push it back a day because of fall break, but it’s our first annual event to honor Rudy each year on his day,” said Nathan Kinney, president of the Senior Skulls. “He was always a big supporter of Maine and our system. He gave us the ‘Stein Song,’ and that’s a source of pride and history for UMaine. We are proud to have it as our fight song.”
Vallee was born Hubert Prior Vallee in Vermont but was raised and went to high school in Westbrook. He attended the University of Maine for one semester before transferring to Yale. Later he became famous for his signature megaphone, which he used to enhance his nasal voice. He made the “Maine Stein Song” a No. 1 musical hit in 1929 and went on to become what some consider the first mass media pop star.
In addition to his successful recording career, Vallee was in dozens of Hollywood films, popular television series such as “Batman” and “CHiPs,” and starred in Broadway musicals until 1984. Vallee died of cancer on July 3, 1986, and is buried in St. Hyacinth’s Cemetery in Westbrook.
“We hope to make this event an annual tradition here. The ‘Stein Song’ is our history and we’re proud of that” said Hannah Hudson, president of All Maine Women.