Perry Como

Russ Columbo
Russ Columbo, the first in a long line of impressive popular male singers that includes Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett.

It could be said without exaggeration that Italian Americans have dominated the field of popular singers for most of the past century. Their names have become legendary household bywords and their records and tapes have sold in the millions. Ruggiero Eugenio di Rodolfo Colombo (Russ Columbo), born in 1908 in San Francisco was the first of this group. Known as the "Romeo of the Airwaves" Colombo, whose soft baritone voice set the stage for later singers, was a major rival of Bing Crosby. Among the next group of Italian American crooners were Frank Sinatra (Francis Albert Sinatra), born in 1915, Perry Como (Pierino Ronald Como), born in 1912, and Frankie Laine (Frank Paul LoVecchio), born in 1913. In the 1930s both Como and Laine started singing with bands, with limited impact until each went on his own. Como's first big million-dollar hit was a firm and appealing rendition of "Till the End of Time," followed by numerous others in which he sang in a sweet, secure manner. For Laine, who possessed a powerful baritone voice, "That's My Desire," became his first huge hit.

By the 1950s Dean Martin (Dino Paul Crocetti), who was born in 1919, and who had left the comedy team with Jerry Lewis, was becoming popular with songs like "That's Amore" and "Volare." Born in New Orleans in 1910, virtuoso performer, songwriter, and bandleader Louis Prima, had a considerable following with his novelty songs such as "Angelina, the Waitress at the Pizzeria." Tony Bennett (Anthony Dominick Benedetto), born in 1926 continues to enjoy immense success as one of the most favorite singers throughout the generations. His longevity has been attributed to his remaining consistent with his style of impeccable phrasing and timing. It has led to winning numerous musical awards. Other Italian American pop singers who became favorites in the mid twentieth century include Phil Brito, Lou Monte, Jimmy Roselli, Jerry Vale, Bobby Darin, Vic Damone, Frankie Valli, and Don Cornell.

Dean Martin Tony Bennett
Vic Damone

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