Jinny Osborn
Jinny Osborn Netherlands 1959

Full name

Jinny Osborn

Alternative names

Virginia Cole, Jinny Lockard, Jinny Janis, Virginia C. Lockard, Virginia A. Janis

Presence at Shimer


Presence on Earth



Academy period alum

Jinny Osborn was a student at Shimer College in the late Academy period, graduating from the Academy class in 1945. She studied music at Shimer, and performed violin in a student group that performed in nearby towns.[1]


  • in Radio and Television Mirror, July 1950, pages 47 & 84:
    JINNY OSBORN: Pretty Jinny is the girl who can take most of the credit for organizing the Chordettes. It was her restlessness on a Sunday afternoon in Sheboygan that led to a telephone call, an invitation and, eventually, the quartet. Sunday afternoons in a small city like Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where everybody likes to relax after the week's work, the morning's sermon and the heavy midday meal, can be just a trifle tedious to anyone so lively as Jinny. The call she made was to Dottie Schwartz.
    "Come on over," she suggested, "and ask Carol to come along too."
    As an afterthought, she added: "And bring your music."
    The number of afterthoughts that have paid off are uncounted, but in the case of the Chordettes, Jinny's was one that lifted the girls from a parlor in Sheboygan to radio and TV spots with Godfrey. Between the two extremes lies the typical trek of singers: appearances, unpaid, at local functions; appearances, ill-paid, at local night clubs; and then the road, where the girls shifted back and forth across the nation in a series of one-night and one-week stands.
    Jinny, like the others, has been singing almost as long as she can remember. She's the "tenor" of the quartet and owes her training in that part to her Dad. He was a traveling salesman who also liked to sing. Unlike most traveling salesmen, he took along the family- while covering his territory. To while away time on the road, Mr. Osborn taught his wife and daughter how to harmonize. Jinny's interest in music developed from there and when she went to Frances Shimer College in Mt. Carroll, Ill., she chose it as her major subject. It's still her major interest, for singing in the quartet takes precedence over everything else in her life. Most of her activities are geared toward developing into a better singer; dancing and bowling account for any time she does find for recreation. But despite a certain single-mindedness of purpose, Jinny seems to enjoy every minute of what life is now offering her — and that seems a fair enough reward for the girl who started something.


Jinny Osborn (April 25, 1927 – May 19, 2003),[2] born Virginia Cole, was a noted American popular music singer. She founded the group The Chordettes with three friends in 1946, which became one of the longest-lasting and most influential American vocal groups of the mid-20th century.[3] Her final departure in 1961 led to the group's dissolution.[3]

Early life and educationEdit

Osborn was born in Seattle and grew up in Sheboygan.[3] Her father, O.H. "King" Cole, was president of the Barbershop Harmony Society.[4][3] He was also the president of the Kingsbury Breweries Company,[5] and is also remembered today as the founder of the "Clipper City Chordsmen" of Manitowoc.[6]

Osborn attended Shimer College, which at the time was a four-year junior college, for the 11th and 12th grades, graduating in 1945. Shimer was well-known for its music program, and she majored in music[4] and also played violin in a student group that performed in nearby towns.[7]

Musical careerEdit

Osborn and three friends (Janet Ertel, Carol Buschmann, and Dorothy Schwartz) formed The Chordettes in 1946, with Osborn singing tenor.[8] Initially they did principally folk music in the barbershop quartet style, though they gradually adopted more conventional pop forms.[3] The group gained prominence when they appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts's television show in 1949, returning as regular guests over the next four years.[3] In 1953, Godfrey replaced their act with the McGuire Sisters.[2]

In the same year, Osborn left the group to have a daughter, thereby missing appearing on the recording of "Mr. Sandman".[9] She was temporarily replaced by Margie Needham.

Osborn did however appear on several of the group's subsequent major hits, including "Born to be With You" (1956), "Just Between You and Me" (1957) and "Lollipop" (1958).[9] She also appeared in the group's appearance on the very first episode of American Bandstand in 1957.[2]

Later life and legacyEdit

After the breakup of The Chordettes, Osborn lived in southern California and largely avoided public life.[9][2] However, she continued to sing in informal barbershop quartet groups, including annual gatherings in Chicago.[9]

She died of cancer in 2003.[2]

Works citedEdit


  1. "Frances Shimer Group To Present Program At Stockton Tuesday". Freeport Journal Standard. 1945-02-03. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Talevski, Nick (2010). "Jinny Osborn". Rock Obituaries: Knocking On Heaven's Door. p. 478. ISBN 9780857121172. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Unterberger, Richie. "The Chordettes". Retrieved 2015-01-02. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mirror 1950, p. 84.
  5. Averill 2003, p. 140.
  6. "About Us". Clipper City Chordsmen. Retrieved 2015-01-02. 
  7. "Frances Shimer Group To Present Program At Stockton Tuesday". Freeport Journal Standard. 1945-02-03. 
  8. Mirror 1950, p. 46.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Pinchot, Joe (2001-10-18). "Chordettes struck a chord with fans of Godfrey show". The Herald (Sharon, Pennsylvania). Retrieved 2015-01-02. 

This page is part of the Shimer College Wiki, an independent documentation project. Shimer College, the Great Books college of Chicago, is not responsible for its content.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.