Sylvia Syms (December 2, 1917 – May 10, 1992) was an American jazz singer.
She was born Sylvia Blagman in Brooklyn, New York, United States. As a child, she had polio. As a teenager, she went to jazz-oriented nightclubs on New York’s 52nd Street, and received informal training from Billie Holiday. In 1941 she made her debut at Kelly’s Stable.
In 1948, performing at the Cinderella Club in Greenwich Village, she was seen by Mae West, who gave her a part in a show she was doing. Among others who observed her in nightclubs was Frank Sinatra who considered her the “world’s greatest saloon singer.” Sinatra subsequently conducted her 1982 album, Syms by Sinatra.
She was signed to a recording contract by Decca Records, having her major success with a recording of “I Could Have Danced All Night” in 1956, which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
Syms made regular appearances at the Carlyle in Manhattan. At times, impromptu, while enjoying a cocktail in the bar of the Carlyle, she would walk on stage and perform with the cabaret’s other regular, Bobby Short.
Sylvia Syms had a lung removed circa 1972 despite which she shortly thereafter performed as Bloody Mary in South Pacific for several months at the Chateau de Ville Dinner Theater – a performance that was well received by reviewers and audiences alike.
She died on stage at the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel in New York from a heart attack, aged 74.