The wife of the late crooner Rudy Vallee captivated a Westbrook audience Monday as she told his story.

Eleanor Vallee, who lives in Los Angeles, said her late husband was eccentric and “full of the dickens.” He was also “a real icon. He was the Elvis Presley of his day,” she said, or, as she rephrased it, “Elvis was the Rudy Vallee of his day.”

Rudy Vallee grew up in Westbrook and became a radio, film and music star. He made his radio debut in 1928 and his first movie, “The Vagabond Lover,” in 1929. He died in 1986 and is buried in St. Hyacinth’s Cemetery in Westbrook.

Eleanor Vallee visited Westbrook this week after presenting her Rudy Vallee show for alumni at his alma mater, the University of Maine, Saturday. She donated one of his saxophones to the alumni association.

Before visiting the Westbrook Historical Society, Vallee and her current husband, actor Byron Clark, did lunch at Burrito in Westbrook. Tom Gangewer, owner of Burrito, didn’t know the celebrity couple was coming, although his friend, Tracy McDonald, served as the couple’s driver and guide in Maine. “I was surprised,” Gangewer said afterward. “They were very nice.”

Kathy Thuotte, a waitress and a bartender at the restaurant, arrived as the couple was about finished. She greeted the couple at their table. “This is a first,” Thuotte said about the celebrities’ visit.

Vallee later said the restaurant was “wonderful, terrific” and praised the margaritas.

She autographed the guest book when she entered the historical society museum on Dunn Street. The museum has a collection of Rudy Vallee memorabilia.

“Do I get a hug? That’s my name,” she said when introduced to Ellie Saunders, a historical society director. “Rudy named me Ellie.”

While cameras flashed and TV cameras whirred, she browsed through the collection, which includes Rudy Vallee photographs and sheet music. “This is a wonderful picture,” she said, admiring a photo in the display.

“‘My Time is Your Time,'” she said, viewing music for one the crooner’s famed songs.

She told a gathering the story of how Rudy Vallee had once been a soda jerk at his father’s pharmacy in downtown Westbrook. An assistant apparently mixed up several syrups but his father blamed Rudy and fired him. She also told how her late husband had transferred to Yale to work his way through college with his band.

Westbrook Mayor Bruce Chuluda joined her audience at the historical society.

“Such a good looking man,” she said, when introduced to Chuluda.

Connie Middlesworth of Gorham, who attended the historical society event, recalled how as a 12-year-old girl she had met Rudy Vallee. She was in downtown Westbrook with her dad when then-Mayor Ernest Porell asked, “Do you want to meet Rudy Vallee?”

Porell introduced them to Vallee in front of the Vallee drug store in Vallee Square. “We met him – I couldn’t believe it,” Middlesworth said.

Eleanor Vallee visited her late husband’s grave Tuesday and placed flowers there before flying home to Los Angeles later in the day.

Seeing and hearing Valle was memorable for many in Westbrook. “She was excellent,” Middlesworth said.

And Diane Dyer, a historical society director, agreed. “She’s very nice,” Dyer said.

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