BY ELINOR J. BRECHER
Carole Taran, a British-born vocalist who became a glamorous fixture in the lounges of South Florida’s beachfront hotels in the 1960s and 1970s, then a successful events producer, died Tuesday at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Taran, of Miami Beach, contracted pneumonia weeks after beginning treatment for a bone-marrow disorder, said her son, Adam Taran, of Hollywood. She was 72.
Born Carole Kent on Sept. 7, 1940, as the Nazis began the catastrophic air assault known as the London Blitz, her brother, former Surfside Mayor Paul Novack, said she came into the world during the first air raid.
A Grammy-nominated singer who recorded for Atlantic Records, Taran did her own arranging and won the 1978 Carbonell Award for best female cabaret performer.
She also fronted the Dorsey Now & Then Big Band, which worked jazz festivals, major conventions, and Bahamas resorts.
With the hint of an English accent and a dazzling smile, Taran was ‘the epitome of graciousness,’’ Novack said. His father, bandleader Robert H. Novack, was Taran’s stepfather.
“Everywhere she went, to shows, restaurants, private parties, everybody wanted to hear her sing,’’ said Novack. “She was lively and positive — the life of the party.’’
She sang the national anthem in front of 76,000 football fans at the old Joe Robbie Stadium during the Miami Dolphins’ undefeated 1972 season, and entertained an audience of 5,000 in the ballroom at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
She opened for crooner Tom Jones, comics Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Shecky Green, Rodney Dangerfield and Alan King, regularly played the old Diplomat Hotel’s Tack Room Lounge and the Fontainebleau’s Gigi Room.
She was a perennial favorite in the now-defunct annual Sigma Delta Chi Ribs and Roast “gridiron’’ show, and appeared in local productions of Broadway musicals.
Among her one-time backup singers: Roseann Sidener, who went on to become principal of Miami Beach High School.
The daughter of professional violinist Michael G. Kent, Taran began performing as a young teen when her family immigrated to New York. After her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to Miami Beach, where her mother married Robert Novack.
Carole met her future husband, Robert S. Taran, at Beach High, from which both graduated in 1958. They married in 1961.
In 1969, a Miami Herald entertainment writer caught her at the Gigi Room, and called her a “sex kitten,’’ and a “very exciting talent…with babyish blonde looks and wide eyes,’’ who “seldom needs a microphone.’’
He added: “Miss Taran is stepping out of the Girl Singer category and into the big leagues.’’
She was soon recording at Miami’s legendary Criteria Records and in Muscle Shoals, the Alabama music capital where she recruited some of Isaac Hayes’ backup singers.
In 1971, Herald entertainment writer John Huddy complimented Taran’s “hugely powerful voice that’s been very well trained. This combination of uncommon physical attributes and basic singing technique enables her to perform all sorts of vocal gymnastics.’’
He noted that her range “seems endless,’’ and that “the big voice with the Eartha Kitt phrasing and arrangements that fully showcase the lady’s talent, help produce considerable excitement…Carole knows what a nightclub act is all about…’’
A 1973 Herald Tropic Magazine profile said that Bob Taran became his wife’s manager, and founded Adam Records to boost her career.
In 1974, the Tarans launched Adam Productions, named for their son. For the next quarter-century, they produced corporate events for major clients like Motorola, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, NBC Sports, Warner Bros. Music, Def Jam Records and Delta Airlines.
Among the stars they booked for events: Luciano Pavarotti, Aretha Franklin, Jon Secada, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, The Backstreet Boys, and L.L. Cool J. They handled convention services for The Diplomat for a decade, Paul Novack said.
They were together in 1979 when both were injured in a car crash, Carole so seriously that she needed emergency surgery and couldn’t perform for months.
One of their final events together was at the first Miami Beach Seafood Festival in November 2000. Bob Taran died one month later.
Carole Taran later married Robert Lee, a retired Seattle businessman, who survives. She was Adam Productions’ president at the time of her death.
Although she loved performing, she valued family first, her brother said.
“Carole had her feet on the ground.’’
Added son Adam: “She was very happy and content with her career here.’’
Funeral services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Blasberg Rubin-Zilbert Chapel, 720 71st St., Miami Beach. Graveside services follow at Lakeside Memorial Park.
The family suggests in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the 1308 Productions Scholarship Fund, Suite 400, 13899 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33181.