Veteran crooner Vic Damone died February 11 as the result of complications from a respiratory illness in Miami at the age of 89.
Speaking on Damone, fellow entertainer Frank Sinatra once noted that Damone had, “the best pipes in the business.” Damone, like Sinatra, was a straightforward singer who relied on the lyrics and melodies instead of the vocal gymnastics that are so popular in the younger singers of today.
Damone was one of those long time performers whose 50 plus year career crossed from singing to acting and entertaining crowds in concert, nightclubs, and on the screen.
A first generation Italian-American, he was born Vito Rocco Farinola on June 12, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. Like so many performers, Damone chose a different last name when he began to perform and took his mother’s maiden name for his professional name. He began singing as a child in school and the youth choir which led to a winning performance on one of Arthur Godfrey’s talent shows.
A 14 year old Vic cornered Perry Como in an elevator and began singing for the crooner. When a young Vic asked Como whether he should pursue voice lessons; Como’s response was to keep singing and even game Vic the name of a band leader.
Damone was signed to his first record contract when he was only 19 years old.
In 1951 Damone’s successful musical career was put on the back burner when he was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve during the Korean Conflict.
And Damone kept singing until he was in his seventies when illness formed Damone to retire from performing. By the time he had retired, Damone had recorded some 2,500 songs on dozens of albums. But like so many other stars of the day, Damon’s career gave way to the the age of rock and roll, but he continued to record and tour, entertaining audiences around the world.
Topping the charts before the Grammy Awards made their debut, Damone was never presented with one of the golden victrolas, but in 1997 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
As an actor Damone appeared in over a dozen productions including his 1951 debut in “Rich, Young and Pretty”, “Athena”, “Kismet”, “Hell to Eternity”, “The Rebel”, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, “The Red Skelton Hour”, and “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries”.
Damone appeared as himself in a variety of programs beginning in 1949 including variety shows – including six appearances on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and 30 appearances on “The Mike Douglas Show”, award shows, game shows, documentaries, late night talk shows, and his own short lived television show.
Predeceased by his son Perry and fifth wife Rena, Damone is survived by sisters Elaine and Terry, three daughters – Victoria, Andrea, and Daneille, and six grandchildren.
feature photo credit: By Columbia Records – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16814650