"The Girl of My Dreams. . ."
The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi

The Music of Sigma Chi

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Stokes Vernor

The Writers

Written in 1911 by two undergraduates at Albion College in Michigan, "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" has become the most popular college fraternity song in history. The site of the writing of the song was Dickie Hall on the campus of Albion. Byron D. Stokes wrote the words one June day while in class. He took the words to his Sigma Chi Brother F. Dudleigh "Dud" Vernor, who was practicing the organ in the campus chapel; Vernor completed the music that day. It was written for the 25th Anniversary Reunion in June 1911 of Alpha Pi Chapter. It was first sung by Harry H. Clifford (Alpha Pi '11), who designed the drawing on the original sheet music, published by Richard Vernor (Alpha Pi '13), brother of Dud Vernor.
Stokes was asked by many people "Who is the girl who was the inspiration?" He answered it was no one in particular. "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."

Stokes later served Sigma Chi during the years 1916-1920 as Executive Secretary, Grand Editor, and Grand Historian, and retired in Pasadena, California. Song sheet music Vernor was organist for the Metropolitan Methodist Church in Detroit for over 50 years. Ironically, although the two collaborated on this classic song while undergraduates, they never saw each other after college: "Our paths simply have never crossed," Vernor said in 1955. However, the two collaborated on at least two other Sigma Chi songs: "The Fellowship Song" and "I'm Glad I'm a Sigma Chi"; the latter was dedicated to Sigma Chi Brothers who fought in World War I. (Both songs are included with other Sigma Chi songs at this site.) Both died in 1974, Vernor at the age of 81 and Stokes at the age of 87. (See also The Centennial History of Sigma Chi: 1855-1955 by Robert M. Collett, pp. 279-281, and History of the Sigma Chi Fraternity by Douglas Richard Carlson, pp. 368-370.)

Just about every Sigma Chi knows the first verse and the chorus of "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi," but how many of you know the second verse! music bar

The Recordings
YouTube recordings will play in Firefox, not Internet Explorer

The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi
The Lettermen
"The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" by Gene Austin,
who had a best-selling version in 1927
"The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi"
by the Ames Brothers

A short film from the 1940's of
"The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi"

A 1928 version of "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi"
by Allen McQuhae
A Barbership Group singing "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi"
The Mainstreet Harmonizers

Recordings of "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi"

Although "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" was popular when it was written and in the years following, the more popular recorded versions of the song were in late 1927 and early 1928. The most popular version was by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, a "glee club" type of group which was extremely popular in the 1920's and 1930's (with hits such as "Sleep" (1923), "Memory Lane" (1924), "Laugh, Clown, Laugh" (1928), "Little White Lies" (1930) and "I Found a Million-Dollar Baby in a Five-and-Ten-Cent Store" (1931)). In November of 1927, the Sweetheart Song entered the "Top Ten," rising to #3 in December; it stayed in the top ten for seven weeks.

Almost as popular as Waring's recording was one by Gene Austin (which can be heard in the above recording), the most popular singer between 1925-1930. Austin was born in Gainesville, Texas, in 1900 and began his entertainment career in vaudeville. When he gained nationwide popularity in 1925, he was known as "The Voice of the Southland." His recording of "My Blue Heaven," the biggest-selling, non-holiday song before rock and roll, was popular at the same time as his version of "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi."

The Movies

There have been two movies called The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. The first was made in 1932, and starred Buster Crabbe and Burr McIntosh, both Sigma Chi and Signficant Sigs, and included some other Sigs in supporting roles. The song is sung in the movie several times by Ted FioRito, a popular bandleader of the 1930's. The movie's plot is pretty corny, but it's nice seeing Sigma Chi stuff in various scenes.

In 1946, another movie musical The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi was released. It starred Marjorie Ann Hoerner, the Sweetheart of Alpha Epsilon Chapter. Although the song was sung in the film by Phil Brito and played in thebackground, another song from the film became a number one hit for Frank Sinatra: "Five Minutes More." The film was shown to delegates at the 60th Grand Chapter in St. Louis in 1975.

The International Sweethearts of Sigma Chi

1948Tanner 1950 1952 Williamson 1955 Carolyn 1957 Turner 1959 Mills 1961 Reem 1963 Walker
1965 Brazleton
1967 Susie 1969 Keithly 1971 Helm 1973 Kitzmiller 1975 1977
1948
Barbara
Tanner
1950
Dottie
Grover
1952
Barbara
Williamson
1955
Carolyn
Stroupe
1957
Judy
Johanson
1959
Laurie
Mills
1961
Carolee
Ream
1963
Mary Jane
Walker
1965
Mary Jo
Bazelton
1967
Sue Helen
Harrison
1969
Carolyn
Keithly
1971
Ann
Helm
1973
Carol
Kitzmiller
1975
Patti
Rawlinson
1977
Kimberly
Knight
1979 Ward 1981 1983 1985 1987 Long 1989 Lehn 1991 Bartelt 1993 Moore 1995 Woolson 1997 Grockenberger 1999 Papson 2001 Howard 2003 Davis 2005 Jackson 2007 Berkley
1979
Jenna
Ward
1981
Lisa Ellen
Cutcher
1983
Julie
Curtin
1985
Lisa
Wheeler
1987
Melissa
Long
1989
Jacquelin
Lehn
1991
Mary
Bartelt
1993
Catherine
Moore
1995
Karina
Wollensen
1997
Metta
Grokenberger
1999
Wendy
Papson
2001
Kimberly &
Mary Kay
Howard
2003
Carrie
Davis
2005
Amy
Jackson
2007
Rachel
Berkey

The Girl of Our Dreams

Barbara Tanner, 1st Sweetheart The first International Sweetheart of Sigma Chi was chosen in 1948 at the 47th Grand Chapter in Seattle. (This was also the Grand Chapter when the first Order of Constantine medals were awarded.) Three judges--John Wayne; Milton Caniff, the noted cartoonist of Steve Canyon and other comics; and Steve Hannagan, the #1 press agent of the 1940's--selected Barbara Tanner, Kappa Alpha Theta, from Detroit from among six finalists; there were over 80 chapters which had nominated their chapter Sweethearts. The event was covered widely by the press and later Barbara was featured on the cover of "The Ladies Home Journal."

The 32nd International Sweetheart is Alexa Stabler, sweetheart from the Iota Iota Chapter at the University of Alabama. Alexa is a psychology major and is a member of Phi Mu Sorority. She will attend the University of Alabama School of Law this fall.

Probably one of the most elaborate sheet music covers was that done for the 1924 edition.


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