At the tender age of twenty-one, Harry James and his thundering trumpet sound rose to fame with Benny Goodman. James started his own band in 1939 and, although he endured a period of hardship, ultimately caught fire by sweetening his hard swinging style; soon after, he became the preeminent bandleader of the '40s. James always employed top musicians (Buddy Rich, "Stuff" Smith) and vocalists (Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, Helen Forrest), and became a Hollywood presence after marrying the leggy actress Betty Grable. As big bands were dropping left and right in the '50s, James wisely chose to toughen his sound, a move which ensured additional success in the age of Bop. Through career ups and downs he remained a great horn player.