MIAMI BEACH, FL (CelebrityAccess) – Lounge crooner and actor Vic Damone, who Frank Sinatra once said “had the best pipes in the business,” died on Sunday. He was 89.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Damone died at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla. from complications of a respiratory illness.
Damone, who was best known for hits such as “You’re Breaking My Heart” and “On the Street Where You Live,” recorded more than 2,500 songs over the course of his career and was a key figure in the golden age of lounge singers following World War II.
A native of Brooklyn born to Italian immigrants, Damone was inspired to launch a career in music when, at the age of 14, he met Perry Como while working as an usher at the Paramount Theater in New York City. While riding an elevator with Como at the theater, Damone stopped the car between floors and belted out a tune to get Como’s impression of his talent. Como advised the aspiring young singer to “keep singing.”
In 1947, Damone won recognition performing on CBS’s radio and television variety show “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” and landed a regular gig singing on the program. Through the show, he met Milton Berle, who helped him to find work singing in nightclubs.
After signing a recording deal with Mercury in 1947, he struck gold with his first release, “I Have But One Heart” which peaked at #7 on the Billboard chart.
In addition to an extensive recording career, Damone also tried his hand at acting, appearing in a pair of films — “The Strip” (1951) and “Rich, Young, And Pretty” (1951) before he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
After his stint in the military, Damone returned to recording and enjoyed a successful recording career through the 1960s, scoring additional hits with songs such as “On the Street Where You Live” and “An Affair to Remember.”
He also hosted an NBC-broadcast television variety show called “The Lively Ones” which showcased a wide range of performers, from pop and jazz to folk and even comedians. Guests over the show’s two-season run included Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Buddy Greco, Gene Krupa, Peggy Lee, Della Reese, and Jack Jones among scores of others.
Despite this success, Damone found himself in financial straits by the 1970s and relocated to Las Vegas, where he found work in the city’s casinos as a featured performer.
His final album of new material was released in 2002, and in 2011 he made his final public performance in front of a sold-out crowd at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach, Florida.
Damone was married five times, including to Italian actress Pier Angel, as well as singer Diahann Carroll. In 1998, he married Rena Rowan, to whom he remained committed until her death in 2016.
Damone is survived by six grandchildren and two sisters. Damone was pre-deceased by two other sisters.
Damone is also survived by three son-in-laws, William Karant, Michael Woodard, and Joel Brown.
A son named after Perry Como, Perry Farinola Damone, died in 2014.