Vic Damone, a pop crooner whose creamy baritone and heartthrob beauty propelled his success on the jukebox and on-screen within the post-World War II period, and for 5 many years extra in nightclubs and live performance halls, died Feb. 11 at a hospital in Miami Beach. He was 89.
The trigger was issues of respiratory failure, mentioned his son-in-law William Karant.
Damone lacked the outsized character of fellow Italian American pop singers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, however he nonetheless flourished on a rung slightly below greatness. He made greater than 2,000 recordings, in addition to dozens of film and TV appearances, and bought out stay performances till he retired within the early 2000s after a stroke.
He made his skilled debut at 17, tying for first place on the radio contest “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,” and his 1947 recording debut heralded an enviable new expertise. “If I had one wish,” Sinatra was mentioned to have remarked, “it would be for Vic Damone’s tonsils. Vic has the best pipes in the business.”
Music critic Will Friedwald, in his quantity “A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers,” attributed to Damone all of the hallmarks of Sinatra’s early romantic balladeer part – “the beautiful voice, the light clear sound, the precise articulation, the impeccable phrasing.”
What Damone lacked, in Friedwald’s view, was the lived-in vocal shading that Sinatra cultivated over a turbulent lifetime of wine, ladies and ring-a-ding mischief.
It was not that Damone led a tumult-free life: He had a number of rocky marriages, together with to actress Pier Angeli and actress-singer Diahann Carroll; he was as soon as dangled out of a New York resort window by a Mafia kingpin; and he struggled again from chapter after being swindled by enterprise companions.
But Damone’s earnest voice couldn’t match Sinatra’s wounded soulfulness or introspective depth, nor did he push the boundaries of the pop kind together with his sunnily delivered requirements, hit-parade titles, present tunes and up to date Neapolitan love ballads with syrupy orchestrations.
He by no means “stood for something beyond a voice itself,” Friedwald wrote. “He was part of an era; Sinatra created one.”
Damone’s early string of hits included “I Have but One Heart,””Again,””You’re Breaking My Heart” and “Angela Mia,” however he was particularly recognized for the ballad “On the Street Where You Live” from the Broadway musical “My Fair Lady.” He additionally had top-selling data with title songs from films similar to “An Affair to Remember,” “War and Peace” and “Gigi.”
Damone was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios and appeared in lighthearted early 1950s musicals similar to “Rich, Young and Pretty,””Deep in My Heart,””Hit the Deck” and “Kismet,” within the final because the caliph who sings “Stranger in Paradise.” In a uncommon departure from kind, he took a supporting position as a leatherneck within the World War II drama “Hell to Eternity” (1960), co-starring Jeffrey Hunter and David Janssen.
The introduction of rock-and-roll drove Damone from his perch atop the pop charts, however he made two of his best albums throughout that part of his profession – “Linger Awhile with Vic Damone” and “The Lively Ones,” each 1962 – that includes the singer relaxed with jazzy up-tempo requirements similar to “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” and “Soft Lights and Sweet Music.”
Damone hosted two short-lived TV musical-variety packages and made a gentle run of visitor appearances on “The Andy Williams Show.” A favourite of President Ronald Reagan’s, he sang on the White House at the very least 3 times through the 1980s.
Damone – he took his mom’s maiden identify – was born Vito Rocco Farinola in Brooklyn on June 12, 1928. As a singer, he accompanied his music-loving mother and father from a younger age and took vocal classes till his father, an electrician, was disabled in a office accident.
At 16, Damone left highschool to help his household as an usher and elevator operator on the Paramount Theatre in New York, whereas aspiring to a profession like Sinatra’s.
“I found the timbre of my voice was similar to his,” he instructed the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel many years later. “I was singing Sinatra songs to girls, and they loved it. I thought this is what I want to do.”
After Damone’s triumph on “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,” comic Milton Berle helped him get an essential nightclub date in Manhattan and a contract with Mercury Records. He bought hundreds of thousands of albums whereas serving a two-year Army stint in Germany through the Korean War.
With writer David Chanoff, Damone wrote a memoir, “Singing Was the Easy Part” (2009), a title that alluded to his dramatic non-public life.
There was the resort window incident, apparently provoked by Damone’s determination to name off an engagement to the daughter of a Mafioso. A sit-down brokered by Luciano crime household boss Frank Costello spared his life.
The singer subsequently squired a collection of display screen goddesses, together with the hard-living however exquisitely inviting Ava Gardner. On one event, the normally teetotaling Damone downed at the very least 4 double vodkas to maintain her . “Ava Gardner could make you do terrible things,” he quipped within the memoir.
In 1954, he married the troubled starlet Angeli, with whom he had a son, Perry. The marriage crumbled shortly, and Perry turned the topic of a custody battle that drew worldwide headlines. Years later, Angeli died of a barbiturate overdose. Perry died in 2014.
Damone’s second marriage, to actress Judy Rawlins, produced three daughters however ruptured amid his chapter in 1971. Two of his enterprise companions had fled to Beirut with $250,000 from a financial institution mortgage he had co-signed.
He climbed out of the crimson by $25,000-a-week performances in Las Vegas. The dire want for revenue led him to show down the position of singer Johnny Fontane in “The Godfather” (1972) – the half went as a substitute to singer Al Martino – due to the comparably paltry compensation. It was not, within the film’s parlance, a proposal he couldn’t refuse.
Damone’s later marriages to Becky Ann Jones and Carroll (“Her priorities were show business, pure and simple”) additionally collapsed. In 1998, he married designer Rena Rowan, a co-founder of the attire firm Jones New York; she died in 2016. Perry Damone died in 2014 from lymphoma.
Survivors embody three daughters, Victoria Damone, Andrea Damone-Brown and Daniella Damone-Woodard; two sisters; and 6 grandchildren.
Damone, lengthy bothered by his lack of formal schooling, accomplished the coursework required for a diploma from his outdated Brooklyn highschool in 1997. The identical yr, he obtained the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s lifetime achievement award.
He settled in Palm Beach County, Florida, specializing in his golf swing and working towards the Baha’i religion that he mentioned introduced him “balance” in a occupation plump with egos.
“You know, I never wanted to be a superstar,” he instructed the Palm Beach Post in 2009. “The entourage, four or five guys walking everywhere with me. None of that. I just wanted to pack up the bag, go to the airport and go do my job. I was happy with what I was doing.”