Height of Perry Como
The height of Perry Como is …m.
1. Where did Perry Como come from ?
Pierino Ronald “Perry” Como (/ˈkoʊmoʊ/; May 18, 1912 – May 12, 2001) was an Italian-American singer, actor and television personality. During a career spanning more than half a century, he recorded exclusively for RCA Victor for 44 years, after signing with the label in 1943.
2. What could we know about Perry Como besides his height ?
He recorded primarily vocal pop and was renowned for recordings in the intimate, easy-listening genre pioneered by multi-media star Bing Crosby.
3. What are the projects of Perry Como ?
“Mr. C.”, as he was nicknamed, sold millions of records and pioneered a weekly musical variety television show. His weekly television shows and seasonal specials were broadcast throughout the world. In the official RCA Records Billboard magazine memorial, his life was summed up in these few words: “50 years of music and a life well lived. An example to all.”
4. Somme collaborations with Perry Como ?
Como received five Emmys from 1955 to 1959, a Christopher Award (1956) and shared a Peabody Award with good friend Jackie Gleason in 1956. He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1990 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1987. Posthumously, Como received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 and was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. He has the distinction of having three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio, television, and music.
Como was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Pittsburgh. He was the seventh of ten children and the first American-born child of Pietro Como and Lucia Travaglini, who both immigrated to the US in 1910 from the Abruzzese town of Palena, Italy. He did not begin speaking English until he entered school, since the Comos spoke Italian at home. The family had a second-hand organ his father had bought for $3; as soon as Como was able to toddle, he would head to the instrument, pump the bellows, and play music he had heard by ear. Pietro, a mill hand and an amateur baritone, had all his children attend music lessons even if he could barely afford them. In a rare 1957 interview, Como’s mother, Lucia, described how her young son also took on other jobs to pay for more music lessons; Como learned to play many different instruments, but never had a voice lesson. He showed more musical talent in his teenage years as a trombone player in the town’s brass band, playing guitar, singing at weddings, and as an organist at church. Como was a member of the Canonsburg Italian Band along with the father of singer Bobby Vinton, bandleader Stan Vinton, who was often a customer at his barber shop.
Young Como started helping his family at age 10, working before and after school in Steve Fragapane’s barber shop for 50¢ a week. By age 13, he had graduated to having his own chair in the Fragapane barber shop, although he stood on a box to tend to his customers. It was also around this time that young Como lost his week’s wages in a dice game. Filled with shame, he locked himself in his room and did not come out until hunger got the better of him. He managed to tell his father what had happened to the money his family depended on. His father told him he was entitled to make a mistake and that he hoped his son would never do anything worse than this. When Perry was 14, his father became unable to work because of a severe heart condition. Como and his brothers became the support of the household.
Despite his musical ability, Como’s primary ambition was to become the best barber in Canonsburg. Practicing on his father, young Como mastered the skills well enough to have his own shop at age 14. One of Como’s regular customers at the barber shop owned a Greek coffee house that included a barber shop area, and asked the young barber whether he would like to take over that portion of his shop. Como had so much work after moving to the coffee house, he had to hire two barbers to help with it. His customers worked mainly at the nearby steel mills. They were well-paid, did not mind spending money on themselves and enjoyed Como’s song renditions. Perry did especially well when one of his customers would marry. The groom and his men would avail themselves of every treatment Como and his assistants had to offer. Como sang romantic songs while busying himself with the groom as the other two barbers worked with the rest of the groom’s party. During the wedding preparation, the groom’s friends and relatives would come into the shop with gifts of money for Como. He became so popular as a “wedding barber” in the Greek community that he was asked to provide his services in Pittsburgh and throughout Ohio.
In 1932, Como left Canonsburg, moving about 100 miles away to Meadville, Pennsylvania, where his uncle had a barber shop in the Hotel Conneaut. Around 80 miles from Cleveland, it was a popular stop on the itinerary for dance bands who worked up and down the Ohio Valley. Como, Roselle, and their friends had gone to nearby Cleveland; their good times took them to the Silver Slipper Ballroom where Freddy Carlone and his orchestra were playing. Carlone invited anyone who thought he might have talent to come up and sing with his band. Young Como was terrified, but his friends urged him and pushed him onto the stage. Carlone was so impressed with Como’s performance that he immediately offered him a job.
The young man was not certain if he should accept the offer Freddy Carlone had made, so he returned to Canonsburg to talk the matter over with his father. Perry expected his father would tell him to stay in the barber business, but to his surprise, the senior Como told him if he did not take the opportunity, he might never know whether or not he could be a professional singer. The decision was also made with an eye on finances; Como earned around $125 per week from his barber shop while the job with Carlone paid $28 per week. Roselle was willing to travel with her husband and the band, but the salary was not enough to support two people on the road. Perry and Roselle were married in Meadville on July 31, 1933; four days later, Como joined Freddy Carlone’s band and began working with them. Roselle returned home to Canonsburg; her new husband would be on the road for the next 18 months.
Three years after joining the Carlone band, Como moved to Ted Weems’s Orchestra and his first recording dates. Como and Weems met in 1936 while the Carlone orchestra was playing in Warren, Ohio. Perry initially did not take the offer to join Weems’s orchestra. Apparently realizing it was the best move for his young vocalist, Freddy Carlone urged him to sign with Weems. Art Jarrett had just left the Weems organization to start his own band. Weems was in need of a vocalist; Como got a raise, as Weems paid him $50 per week, and his first chance for nationwide exposure. Ted Weems and his orchestra were based in Chicago and were regulars on The Jack Benny Program and Fibber McGee and Molly. The Weems band also had its own weekly radio program on the Mutual Broadcasting System during 1936–1937.
It was here where the young Como acquired polish and his own style with the help of Ted Weems. Mutual’s Chicago affiliate, WGN radio, threatened to stop carrying the Weems broadcasts from Chicago’s Palmer House if Weems’s new singer did not improve. Weems had recordings of some previous radio programs; one evening he and Como listened to them after the show. From listening to them, Como was shocked to realize that no one could make out the words to the songs he was singing. Weems told Como there was no need for him to resort to vocal tricks; what was necessary was to sing from the heart.
Como’s first recording with the Weems band was a novelty tune which name is “You Can’t Pull the Wool Over My Eyes”, recorded for the Decca Records label in May 1936. During one of Como’s early Decca recording sessions with the Weems orchestra, Weems was told to get rid of “that kid” (Como) because he sounded too much like Bing Crosby, who also recorded for Decca. Before Como could reply, Ted Weems spoke-up, saying that Como was part of the session or it was over. By the time Como had been with Ted Weems about a year, he was mentioned in a 1937 Life magazine NBC Radio ad for Fibber McGee and Molly as “causing cardiac flutters with his crooning”. The weekly radio show, Beat the Band, which ran on NBC from 1940–1944, was a “stump the band” type musical quiz show where Weems and his orchestra were the featured band from 1940–1941.
The Comos’ first child, Ronnie, was born in 1940 while the Weems band was working in Chicago. Como left to be at his wife’s side even though he was threatened with dismissal if he did so. Though Perry was now making $250 a week and travel expenses for the family were no problem, young Ronnie could not become used to a normal routine when they were able to stay in one place for a period of time. The radio program Beat the Band did not always originate from Chicago, but was often broadcast from other cities such as Milwaukee, Denver and St. Louis, as the band continued to play road engagements while part of the radio program cast. Perry decided life on the road was no place to try raising a child, and Roselle and the baby went back to Canonsburg.
In late 1942, Como made the decision to quit the Weems band, even if it meant he had to give up singing. He returned to Canonsburg, his family, and his trade, weary of life on the road, and missing his wife and young son. Como received an offer to become a Frank Sinatra imitator, but chose to keep his own style. While Perry was negotiating for a store lease to re-open a barber shop, he received a call from Tommy Rockwell at General Artists Corporation, who also represented Ted Weems. Como fielded many other calls that also brought offers, but he liked and trusted Rockwell, who was offering him his own sustaining (non-sponsored) Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) radio show and promised to get him a recording contract. The offers were also appealing because it meant staying put in New York with no more road tours. As Perry pondered the job offer, Roselle told him, “You can always get another barber shop if it doesn’t work out!” Until the radio show and recording contract offers, he did not really view singing as his true career, believing the years with Carlone and Weems had been enjoyable, but now it was time to get back to work. Como said in a 1983 interview, “I thought I’d have my fun and I’d go home to work.”
Perry made his start radio broadcast for CBS on March 12, 1943. Rockwell’s next move was to book Como into the renowned Copacabana Night Club for two weeks beginning on June 10, 1943. One week later he signed his first RCA Victor contract and three days after that cut his first record for the company, “Goodbye, Sue”. It was the beginning of a professional relationship which would last for 44 years. He became a very successful performer in theater and night club engagements; Como’s initial two weeks at the Copacabana in June stretched into August. Frank Sinatra would sometimes call Como and ask him to fill in for him at his Paramount Theater performances.
The crooning craze was at its height during this time and the “bobby soxer” and “swooner” teenage girls who were wild about Sinatra added Como to their list. A “swooners” club voted Perry “Crooner of the Year” in 1943. The line for a Perry Como Paramount performance was three deep and wound around the city block. Como’s popularity also extended to a more mature audience when he played the Versailles and returned to the Copacabana, where the management placed “SRO-Swooning Ruled Out” cards on their tables.
Doug Storer, who was an advertising manager with the Blackman Company at the time, became convinced of Como’s abilities after hearing him on his non-sponsored CBS Radio show. Storer produced a demo radio program recording with Como and the Mitchell Ayres Orchestra which he brought to the advertising agency that handled the Chesterfield Cigarettes account. Initially, the agency liked the format of the show, but wanted someone else as the star, asking Storer to obtain the release of the singer they preferred, so he would be free for their new program. Storer decided to do nothing about getting the singer released from his contract. When he was contacted by the agency some weeks later, saying they were ready to put the program on the air on NBC, Storer bluntly told them the man for their show was the man they had heard on the demo recording. The program was scheduled to make its start in a week; the only option was to hire Como for the show. Storer then arranged for Como’s release from his CBS contract. On December 11, 1944, he moved from CBS to NBC for a new radio program, Chesterfield Supper Club.
The April 5, 1946, broadcasts of the Chesterfield Supper Club took place 20,000 feet in the air; these were the first known instances of a complete radio show being presented from an airplane. Como, Jo Stafford, the Lloyd Shaffer Orchestra and the entire “Supper Club” crew made the flights for the shows. There were two “Supper Club” broadcast flights that evening: at 6 PM and again at 10 PM for the West Coast broadcast of the show. A total of three flights were made; there was an earlier rehearsal flight for reception purposes. In addition to the instruments for the band, the plane also carried a small piano. Because the stand-held microphones were not very useful on the plane, hand-held mikes were then used, but due to the cabin pressure, they became extremely heavy to hold after a few minutes. This mid-air performance caused the American Federation of Musicians to consider this a new type of engagement and issue a special set of rates for it.
Como had not made a night club appearance in 26 years when he accepted an engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas in June 1970, which also resulted in his first “live” album, Perry Como in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas. Ray Charles, whose Ray Charles Singers were heard with Como for over 35 years, formed a special edition of the vocal group for his Las Vegas opening. Prior to this he had last appeared at New York’s Copacabana in 1944. Como continued to do periodic engagements in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe, limiting his night club appearances to Nevada.
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