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Singer Held in Drummer’s Death

October 4, 1991

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ She was a stunning beauty, friends said, with a voice to match. But in recent years singer Gloria Hudson became a recluse, her house filling with clutter and the feces of Bubbles, her poodle, and Foo-Foo, her cat.

After nine hours of holding police at bay with an automatic pistol, at times babbling incoherently, Helen Paolone, 62, who used the stage name Gloria Hudson, was charged with murder.

Police found the body of drummer Jacob R. Portnoy, known as Jack, under a blanket in the bathroom of Hudson’s house. He had been shot several times, sometime Tuesday, police said.

Hudson once sang with Benny Goodman, Nelson Riddle and Maynard Ferguson.

″She was beautiful in her time, talented, but a pathetic sight over the past year,″ her half-brother, Gary White, told the Philadelphia Daily News.

Portnoy’s bandmates in the Howard Miller Orchestra became concerned when Portnoy missed performances last week. They called Hudson, who gave evasive answers.

On Tuesday night, the band members called the police. Hudson told them Portnoy, 62, was sleeping. The officers used a ladder to look in a second- story window and saw the body. They also saw Hudson in the next room, holding a gun, and the standoff started.

Around 6 a.m. Wednesday, officers distracted her and snatched away the gun.

″Jack never missed a gig in 15 years,″ said Howard Miller, leader of the Howard Miller Orchestra. ″So when he didn’t show, we all called, members of the band.″

Hudson became a recluse after their mother died, her half-brother said.

″She had this terrific voice, all this talent, then she stopped performing,″ he told the Daily News.

Miller told The Philadelphia Inquirer Hudson ″grew ill and was unable to continue in the business. She was incapable of taking care of herself. Jack has been continuing to see Gloria. He would go over and take care of her.″

Besides her stints with Riddle and Goodman, Hudson appeared on Broadway in ″Li’l Abner″ and in countless clubs, friends said.

″She had a terrific jazz style. She was an actress, too,″ Miller said.

Her home was filled with photographs from her career, White said.

She ″made it a palace, now it’s a wreck,″ he added. ″It was her career museum, tons of materials, now I can’t believe what happened to it.″

Her ex-husband, guitarist Jimmy DeFranco, who lives in Florida, described her to the Daily News as a ″knockout.″

″She was a good pop singer, blues-pop,″ said DeFranco, who was divorced from her 25 years ago. ″She was good enough to go with Benny Goodman. You can’t be a ham-and-egger and do that.″

″In the music business, especially right now, everybody buys youth. As you get older, people just don’t call you anymore.″

″When she walked into the room, you didn’t care if she could sing or not,″ said Carmen Dee, a local band leader. ″She was beautiful.″

Hudson also was charged with weapons offenses, aggravated and simple assault. She was being held at the Philadelphia Detention Center pending a hearing Wednesday.

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