"St. James Infirmary Blues" is one of a number of Suspense episodes that were based on popular songs. In it, Rosemary Clooney appears as a gal looking for excitement in 1920's New York.
The song has an anonymous origin but it was derived from an 18th century English song called "The Unfortunate Rake." "St. James Infirmary Blues" was first made popular in 1928 by Louis Armstrong and it has since been recorded by many. While most renditions of this song appear to have been performed by men, Suspense wrote their episode around a female character. For more information about the song, there is a website devoted to "St. James Infirmary Blues" at NO Notes.
Rosemary Clooney, in her only appearance on Suspense, both sings the narration and plays the role of Sheila, a girl who falls for a handsome gangster named Nicky. It is a short-lived romance and Sheila ultimately ends up singing the blues when Nicky double-crosses his boss.
"St James Infirmary Blues" was written by Morton Fine and David Friedkin. Elliott Lewis produced and directed. William Conrad played Brock Garvey and Tony Barrett played Nick Volpe. Also appearing were Billy Halop, Vivi Janiss, Joseph Kearns, Shepard Menken, and Clayton Post. This episode aired on February 23, 1953.
Below is an excellent version of "St. James Infirmary Blues" performed by Cab Calloway. This surreal clip is taken from Max Fleischer"s Snow White cartoon featuring Betty Boop (1933). Cab Calloway appeared as Koko the Clown.
Video from Youtube.com