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From the age of twelve, Grayson trained as an opera singer.
She was under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by the early 1940s, soon establishing a career principally through her work in musicals.
She returned to films in Anchors Aweigh, a musical romantic-comedy set in Los Angeles and co-starring Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
Later in the decade she performed in several operas, including La bohème, Madama Butterfly, Orpheus in the Underworld and La traviata.
Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick was born on February 9, 1922, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, one of four children of Charles Hedrick, a building contractor-realtor, and Lillian Hedrick (née Grayson 1897–1955).
While on loan to Warner Bros, her first musical release was The Desert Song, May 1953, alongside Gordon Mac Rae.
She was asked to perform La Bohème at the Central City Opera House in Central City, Colorado, but due to her filming obligations for The Desert Song, she had to turn it down.