“Ole Nosey,” a columnist who covered society and nightlife for the black newspaper The Chicago Defender, offered a sense of how Harold Parker had made a name for himself by 1959.

“The Boy Wonder of Peoria,” he ran an “interracial night club” that was the “hottest thing this side of Khrushchev,” one that recruited its talent from Chicago. Perhaps it was in the act of “shopping for talent” that he had met his new wife, a Chicago chorus girl named Carmen Dutallo.