Perry ComoPerry Como
Background information Birth name Pierino Ronald Como Born May 18, 1912(1912-05-18)
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.Died May 12, 2001(aged 88)
Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida, U.S.Genre(s)Easy Listening, Adult Contemporary, Popular Vocal, Pop, Big Band, Jazz, Latin, Swing, Country, Rock And RollInstrument(s)VocalistYears active 1933–1998 Label(s)Decca, RCA Victor
Pierino Ronald "Perry" Como (May 18, 1912 – May 12, 2001) was an Italian-American singer and television personality. During a career spanning more than half a century he recorded exclusively for the RCA Victor label after signing with it in 1943. "Mr. C", as he was nicknamed, sold millions of records for RCA and also pioneered a weekly musical variety television show, which set the standards for the genre and proved to be one of the most successful in television history. His combined success on television and popular recordings was not matched by any other artist of the time.
A popular television performer and recording artist, Perry Como produced numerous hit records with record sales so high the label literally stopped counting at Como's behest. His weekly television shows and seasonal specials were broadcast throughout the world and his popularity seemingly had no geographical or language boundaries. He was equally at ease in live performance and in the confines of a recording studio. His appeal spanned generations and he was widely respected for both his professional standards and the conduct in his personal life. 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."
Well known American composer Ervin Drake said of him, " . . . occasionally someone like Perry comes along and won't 'go with the flow' and still prevails in spite of all the bankrupt others who surround him and importune him to yield to their values. Only occasionally."
- 1 Personal life
- 2 Professional singer
- 3 Television
- 4 A farewell concert from Ireland
- 5 Death
- 6 Trivia
- 7 Long Play Albums ~ RCA Victor 10"
- 8 Long Play Albums ~ RCA Victor 12"
- 9 Long Play Albums ~ RCA Camden 12"
- 10 Selected Compilation Albums
- 11 Final Recordings
- 12 Radio
- 13 Television ~ Host
- 14 Television ~ Guest - Guest Host - Cameo Appearance - Documentary
- 15 Filmography - Including Shorts
- 16 Round and Round
- 17 See also
- 18 References
- 19 External links
Como, an Italian American, was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, the middle child of 13 children. He was a Roman Catholic. Although he always liked to sing, his first great ambition was to be the best barber in Canonsburg. After graduation from high school, he opened his own barber-shop. In 1933, he married his teenage sweetheart, Roselle Belline, whom he had met at a picnic in 1929 when he was just 17. They raised three children. In 1993, he was successfully treated for bladder cancer. Perry and Roselle remained married until her death in August 1998 at age 84. Como was reportedly devastated by her passing.
Professional singerPerry Como and Superman
In 1933 Como joined Freddy Carlone's band in Ohio, and three years later moved up to Ted Weems' Orchestra and his first recording dates. Their first recording was a novelty tune called "You Can't Pull the Wool Over My Eyes", recorded for the Decca Records label.
In 1942 Weems dissolved his band, and Como went on to CBS, where he sang for a couple of years without any conspicuous success. By this time the erstwhile barber had decided to return to Canonsburg, his family, and his barbering. Just as he was about to abandon his singing career once and for all, two NBC producers stepped in, returning him to show business for the NBC radio program Chesterfield Supper Club. Later he became a very successful performer in theater and nightclub engagements.
In 1945, Como recorded the pop ballad "Till the End of Time" (based on Chopin's "Heroic Polonaise"), which marked the beginning of a highly successful career. Como was the first artist to have ten records sell more than one million copies. Similarly, his television show achieved a much higher rating than that of any other vocalist to date.
Como had, according to Joel Whitburn's compilations of the U.S. Pop Charts, fourteen U.S. #1 singles: "Till The End Of Time" (1945); "Prisoner of Love" (1946); "Surrender" (1946); "Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba" (1947); "A - You're Adorable" (1949); "Some Enchanted Evening" (1949); "Hoop-De-Doo" (1950); "If" (1951); "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes" (1952); "No Other Love" (1953); "Wanted" (1954); "Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)" (1956); "Round And Round" (1957); and "Catch A Falling Star" (1957).
On March 14, 1958, the RIAA certified Como's hit single, "Catch A Falling Star" as its first ever Gold Record. Como won the 1958 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, male for "Catch a Falling Star." His final Top 40 hit was a cover of Don McLean's "And I Love You So", recorded in 1973.
He recorded many albums of songs for the RCA Victor label between 1952 and 1987, and is credited with numerous gold records. Como had so many recordings achieve gold-record status that he refused to have many of them certified. It was this characteristic which made him so different from his peers, and which endeared him to legions of fans throughout the world. Over the decades, Como is reported to have sold millions of records, but he commonly suppressed these figures.
By the 1980s, the atmosphere of recording had changed dramatically from his early days at RCA Victor. Como's recording sessions had previously been filled with laughter and joy. In his 1959 recording of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town", listeners with headphones can hear him burst into laughter during one orchestra passage. But in later years, the sessions deteriorated into much more sombre occasions. For this reason, he walked away from his final studio-produced recordings in the early 1980s. He returned to record a final album for RCA with his trusted friend and associate Nick Perito in 1987. His recording of "The Wind Beneath My Wings" was almost autobiographical, a fitting end to a long and successful recording career. Como recorded only once more, in 1994, privately, for his well-known Christmas Concert in Ireland.
Como received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
Perry Como was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2007.
Perry Como modelled his voice and style after Bing Crosby as most male singers of the 1930s and 1940s did. Perry Como's voice is widely known for its good-natured vocal acrobatics as portrayed in his highly popular novelty songs such as "Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)". But there was another side to Perry Como described by music critic Gene Lees in his sleeve note to Como's 1968 album "Look To Your Heart":
Despite his immense popularity, Como is rarely given credit for what, once you stop and think of it, he so clearly is: one of the great singers and one of the great artists of our time. Perhaps the reason people rarely talk about his formidable attributes as a singer is that he makes so little fuss about them. That celebrated ease of his has been too little understood. Ease in any art is the result of mastery over the details of the craft. You get them together to the point where you can forget about how you do things and concentrate on what you are doing. Como got them together so completely that the muscles don’t even show. It seems effortless, but a good deal of effort has gone into making it seem so. Como is known to be meticulous about rehearsal of the material for an album. He tries things out in different keys, gives the song thought, makes suggestions, tries it again, and again, until he is satisfied. The hidden work makes him look like Mr. Casual, and too many people are taken in by it — but happily so. I have of necessity given a good deal of thought and study to the art of singing, and Como's work consistently astonishes me. He is a fantastic technician. Listen in this album to the perfection of his intonation, the beauty of the sound he produces, the constant comfortable breath control. And take notice of his high notes. Laymen are often impressed by the high note you can hear for five blocks. Professionals know that it is far more difficult to hit a high note quietly. Como lights on a C or D at the top of a tune as softly as a bird on a branch, not even shaking it. And then there's his phrasing. A number of our best singers phrase well. The usual technique is to rethink the lyrics of a song to see how they would come out if you were saying them, and then approximate in singing the normal speech inflections and rhythms. This often involves altering the melody, but it is a legitimate practice and when done well can be quite striking. But Como is beyond that. He apparently does not find it necessary to change the melodic line in order to infuse a song with emotion. A great jazz trumpeter once told me, "After fifteen years of playing, I’ve come to the conclusion that the hardest thing to do is to play melody, play it straight and get feeling into it." Como has been doing this from the beginning. Stylistically, he comes out of the Bing Crosby-Russ Colombo school. That was all a long time ago. Como has been his own man for many years now. He sounds like nobody else. And nobody sounds like him, either. He is hard to imitate precisely because his work is so free of tricks and gimmicks. There are no mannerisms for another singer to pick up from him. All one can do is try to sing as well and as honestly as Como, and any singer who does that will end up sounding like himself, not Como.
Perry Como made the move to television when NBC televised the Chesterfield Supper Club radio program on December 24, 1948. In 1950, he moved to CBS and the show's title was changed to The Perry Como Show. Como hosted this 15 minute musical variety series on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, immediately following the CBS Television News. The Faye Emerson Show was broadcast in the same time slot on Tuesday and Thursday.
Como's 15-minute television show continued through the early 1950s until he moved back to NBC in 1955 on Saturdays, extended to an hour long. On September 15, 1956, the season premiere of The Perry Como Show was broadcast from NBC's new color television studios at the New York Ziegfeld Theatre, making it one of the first weekly color TV shows. In 1959, Como moved to Wednesday night, hosting the Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall for the next five years.
Como became the highest-paid performer in the history of television to that date, earning mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. Prior to this, Como competed with Jackie Gleason in what was billed the "Battle of the Giants", and won. This is now rarely mentioned, in part because Como commonly played down his own achievements.
Como had numerous Christmas television specials, beginning on Christmas Eve 1948, and continuing to 1994, when his final Christmas special was recorded in Ireland. After his weekly TV series ended in 1963, Como's television specials became bi-monthly, then monthly, and were finally limited to seasonal specials celebrating Easter, Spring, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, ending in 1987. They were recorded from many parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, Rome, Austria, France, and many locations throughout North America. Como's Christmas concert in Ireland was his final special, and the last of his commercial recordings.
A farewell concert from Ireland
In January 1994, Como travelled to Dublin, Ireland, for what would be an auspicious moment in his long career of more than sixty years. 1993 would have marked his fiftieth anniversary with the RCA Victor label as well as his forty-fifth year of television specials celebrating Christmas and its importance throughout the world to people of all faiths. Como's Irish Christmas was produced for the American PBS public television system and despite Como looking aged and unwell, has been re-broadcast annually since 1994. At the show's conclusion, Como apologized to his Dublin audience for a performance he felt was not up to his usual standards.
Como died quietly in his sleep on May 12, 2001 at his home in Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida, six days before his eighty-ninth birthday. He was reported to have suffered from symptoms of Alzheimer's disease during the final two years of his life.  His Funeral Mass took place at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Palm Beach, Florida.
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- Perry Como's birthplace of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania is also the birth place of popular singer Bobby Vinton. Vinton always claimed to be from Pittsburgh, while Como always said he was from Canonsburg, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Canonsburg erected a statue of Como in the middle of town on a base that reads, "To this place God has brought me." Perry Como was never able to see the statue before his death. The statue "sings" by playing recordings of Como's music.
- If you visit downtown Gettysburg, you will see two statues on the sidewalk in front of the hotel where Lincoln stayed the night before he gave the Gettysburg Address. One is of Lincoln with his left arm raised, using his stove-pipe hat to point to the window of the room he stayed in. His right hand is on the arm of a "tourist", as if he's showing the tourist the room. The statue of the tourist is of Perry Como in his famous cardigan sweater.
- The comedy show SCTV featured a popular sketch with Eugene Levy as "Perry Como: Still Alive!" in which the singer was portrayed as so laid-back that he sang while lying down. The sketch became well enough known to have been mentioned in obituaries, which reported that Como had been greatly amused by it.
- Perry Como himself is a seventh son of a seventh son.
- Como's sugary Christmas track "Christmas Dream", complete with warm lyrics and charming German schoolchildren as the chorus, was used in the holocaust / Nazi-pursuit film The Odessa File, forming a memorably ironic, bitter and satirical introduction to the film as Jon Voight drives through a modern brightly lit Hamburg at Christmas.
- Como was referenced in the series finale of Seinfeld, in which Jerry Seinfeld, Kramer, George Costanza, and Elaine Benes's attorney Jackie Chiles tells Costanza: "I want the jury to see Perry Como! No one's gonna convict Perry Como!" Chiles wanted Costanza to look like a friendly man, and not a felon, in his court appearance.
- Como was also referenced on the animated show The Angry Beavers. In the episode The Mom from U.N.C.L.E. Norbert and Daggett's mother says they look "strong and handsome, just like Perry Como.".
- His version of Jingle Bells topped Billboard magazine's Hot Ringtones chart in the December 16, 2006 issue, meaning that Como has had chart-topping songs 61 years apart.
- In The Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life", Dan Hollis receives a Perry Como album as a surprise birthday present. His inability to play the album at his leisure becomes the catalyst for his breakdown and tragic rebellion against little Anthony Fremont (Billy Mumy), who dislikes any singers' voices ("No singing while the music's playin'!").
- Como is mentioned in the third sketch of the 48th show of the second season of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (also featuring Wailing Whale episodes 5 & 6), which was first released on May 13, 1961.
- In 2007 Perry Como was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
Long Play Albums ~ RCA Victor 10"
- 1951 Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music
- 1952 TV Favorites
- 1952 A Sentimental Date with Perry
- 1952 Supper Club Favorites
- 1953 Hits from Broadway Shows
- 1953 Around the Christmas Tree
- 1953 I Believe ~ Songs of All Faiths Sung by Perry Como
- 1954 Como's Golden Records
Long Play Albums ~ RCA Victor 12"
- 1955 So Smooth
- 1956 I Believe
- 1956 Relaxing with Perry Como
- 1956 Perry Como Sings Hits from Broadway Shows
- 1956 A Sentimental Date with Perry Como
- 1956 Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music
- 1957 We Get Letters
- 1958 Saturday Night With Mr. C
- 1958 When You Come To The End Of The Day
- 1958 Como's Golden Records
- 1959 Como Swings
- 1959 Seasons Greetings From Perry Como
- 1961 For The Young At Heart
- 1961 Sing to Me, Mr. C
- 1962 By Request
- 1962 The Best Of Irving Berlin's Songs From Mr. President
- 1963 Perry at His Best
- 1963 The Songs I Love
- 1965 The Scene Changes ~ Perry Goes to Nashville
- 1966 Lightly Latin
- 1966 Perry Como In Italy
- 1968 The Perry Como Christmas Album
- 1968 Look to Your Heart
- 1969 Seattle
- 1970 Perry Como In Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas
- 1970 This is Perry Como
- 1970 It's Impossible
- 1971 I Think of You
- 1972 This is Perry Como Vol. 2
- 1973 And I Love You So
- 1974 Perry ~ The Way We Were
- 1975 Just Out Of Reach
- 1976 Perry Como: A Legendary Performer
- 1977 The Best Of British
- 1978 Where You're Concerned
- 1980 Perry Como ~ The Colors of My Life
- 1981 Perry Como: Live On Tour
- 1982 I Wish It Could Be Christmas Forever
- 1983 So It Goes ~ Goodbye For Now
- 1987 Perry Como Today ~ The Wind Beneath My Wings
- 1993 Yesterday & Today: A Celebration In Song (RCA Victor Box Set)
Long Play Albums ~ RCA Camden 12"
- 1957 Dream Along With Me
- 1958 Perry Como Sings Just For You
- 1959 Perry Como's Wednesday Night Music Hall
- 1960 Dreamer's Holiday
- 1961 Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music
- 1962 Make Someone Happy
- 1963 An Evening With Perry Como
- 1964 Love Makes The World Go 'Round
- 1965 Somebody Loves Me
- 1966 No Other Love
- 1967 Hello Young Lovers
- 1968 You Are Never Far Away
- 1969 The Lord's Prayer
- 1970 Easy Listening
- 1971 Door Of Dreams
- 1972 The Shadow Of Your Smile
- 1973 Dream On Little Dreamer
- 1974 The Sweetest Sounds
Selected Compilation Albums
- 1953 Perry Como Sings ~ Evergreens By Perry Como
- 1975 The First Thirty Years
- 1975 Perry Como - Superstar
- 1975 Perry Como ~ Napoleon NLP-11090
- 1976 This Is Perry Como ~ For The US Army Reserve
- 1979 1940-41 Broadcast Recordings (Ted Weems & His Orchestra Featuring Perry Como And Elmo Tanner)
- 1981 Young Perry Como
- 1982 Collector's Items
- 1983 Christmas With Perry Como
- 1984 The Young Perry Como With Ted Weems & His Orchestra (1936-1941)
- 1984 Perry Como ~ Book Of The Month Club Box Set
- 1984 Crosby & Como ~ A Limited Collector's Edition
- 1986 The Best Of Times
- 1988 Jukebox Baby
- 1995 World Of Dreams ~ A Collection Of Rarities & Collectors Items
- 1995 The Perry Como Shows: 1943 ~ Volume 1
- 1995 The Perry Como Shows: 1943 ~ Volume 2
- 1995 The Perry Como Shows: 1943 ~ Volume 3
- 1997 Perry Como: V-Disc Armed Forces Program ~ A Musical Contribution By America's Best For Our Armed Forces Overseas
- 1998 The Long Lost Hits Of Perry Como
- 1998 Perry-Go-Round
- 1999 The Essential 60's Singles Collection
- 1999 Greatest Hits
- 1999 I Want To Thank You Folks
- 1999 Class Will Tell ~ Perry Como With Ted Weems & His Orchestra
- 1999 Greatest Christmas Songs
- 2000 The Very Best Of Perry Como (BMG)
- 2001 Perry Como Sings Songs Of Faith & Inspiration (Buddha Records ~ Special Limited Edition - 2 CD Set)
- 2001 A Perry Como Christmas
- 2001 RCA: 100 Years Of Music ~ Perry Como With The Fontane Sisters
- 2006 Juke Box Baby (Compilation)
- 2006 One More Time ~ Perry Como & The Fontane Sisters
- Columbia Presents Como (1943)
- The Perry Como Chesterfield Supper Club (1944-1950)
- The Perry Como Chesterfield Show (1950-1955)
Television ~ Host
- The Perry Como Chesterfield Supper Club (1948-1950)
- The Perry Como Chesterfield Show (1950-1955)
- The Perry Como Show (1955-1959)
- Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall (1959-1967)
- Perry Como Comes To London (1960)
- The Perry Como Holiday Special (1967)
- Perry Como Special - In Hollywood (1968)
- Christmas At The Hollywood Palace (1969)
- The Many Moods Of Perry Como (1970)
- Perry Como - In Person (1971)
- Perry Como's Winter Show (1971)
- The Perry Como Winter Show (1972)
- Cole Porter In Paris (1973)
- The Perry Como Winter Show (1973)
- The Perry Como Sunshine Show (1974)
- Perry Como's Summer of '74 (1974)
- Perry Como's Christmas Show (1974)
- Como Country: Perry And His Nashville Friends (1975)
- Perry Como's Springtime Special (1975)
- Perry Como's Lake Tahoe Holiday (1975)
- Perry Como's Christmas In Mexico (1975)
- Perry Como's Hawaiian Holiday (1976)
- Perry Como's Spring In New Orleans (1976)
- Perry Como: Las Vegas Style (1976)
- Perry Como's Christmas In Austria (1976)
- Perry Como's Music From Hollywood (1977)
- Perry Como's Olde Englishe Christmas (1977)
- Perry Como's Easter By The Sea (1978)
- Perry Como's Early American Christmas (1978)
- Perry Como's Springtime Special (1979)
- Perry Como's Christmas In New Mexico (1979)
- Perry Como's Bahamas Holiday (1980)
- Perry Como's Christmas In The Holy Land (1980)
- Perry Como's Spring In San Francisco (1981)
- Perry Como's French-Canadian Christmas (1981)
- Perry Como's Easter In Guadalajara (1982)
- Perry Como's Christmas In Paris (1982)
- Perry Como's Christmas In New York (1983)
- Perry Como's Christmas In England (1984)
- Perry Como's Christmas In Hawaii (1985)
- The Perry Como Christmas Special (1986)
- Perry Como's Irish Christmas (1994)
Television ~ Guest - Guest Host - Cameo Appearance - Documentary
- The Frank Sinatra Show (March 10, 1951)
- The Frank Sinatra Show (October 19, 1951)
- The All-Star Revue (February 14, 1953)
- Max Leibman's Variety (January 30, 1955)
- Some Of Manie's Friends ~ Tribute To RCA/NBC Executive Manie Saks (March 3, 1959)
- The Bob Hope Show (November 18, 1956)
- The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (January 31, 1957)
- Il Musichiere (May, 1958)
- The Bing Crosby Show (February 29, 1960)
- Celebrity Golf (1960)
- The Bob Hope Show (1967)
- Laugh-In (November 25, 1968)
- Laugh-In (January 13, 1969)
- Laugh-In (March 24, 1969)
- Laugh-In (February 16, 1970)
- Jimmy Durante Presents The Lennon Sisters (February 28, 1970)
- The Doris Mary Anne Kapplehoff Special ~ The Doris Day Special (March 14, 1971)
- The Flip Wilson Show (October 6, 1971)
- Julie Andrews On Sesame Street (November 23, 1973)
- The Royal Variety Performance (November 24, 1974)
- The Barber Comes To Town (1975)
- Ann-Margret: Rhinestone Cowgirl (April 26, 1977)
- Parkinson (November 26, 1977)
- Bob Hope's Christmas Show (December 1977)
- Entertainment Tonight ~ On Perry Como's 40th Anniversary With RCA Records (1983)
- The Today Show (1983)
- The Kennedy Center Honors (December 27, 1983)
- The Arlene Herson Show (June 6, 1984)
- Minneapolis TV Interview (June 19, 1984)
- Regis Philbin's Life Styles (July, 1984)
- AM Cleveland (July, 1984)
- The Kennedy Center Honors (December 6, 1987)
- Evening At Pops ~ A Tribute To Bing Crosby (August 20, 1988)
- Regis & Kathy Lee Live (October 11, 1988)
- Regis & Kathy Lee Live (July 7, 1989)
- Gala Concert For President Ronald Reagan (October 22, 1989)
- Regis & Kathy Lee Live (December 4, 1990)
- Regis & Kathy Lee Live (December 5, 1990)
- Broadcast Hall of Fame (January 7, 1991)
- Hard Copy ~ Perry Como - The King of Crooners (June 14, 1991)
- CBS - This Morning (December 20, 1991)
- National Memorial Day Concert, Washington D.C. (May 22, 1992)
- Regis & Kathy Lee Live (November 15, 1994)
Filmography - Including Shorts
- Something To Shout About (1943) ~ Possible Cameo (Not Yet Confirmed)
- Something for the Boys (1944)
- Doll Face (1945)
- March of Time (1945)
- If I'm Lucky (1946)
- Words and Music (1948)
- Tobaccoland on Parade (1950)
- The Fifth Freedom (1951)
Round and Round
Como's hit song was adapted for a Ballantine beer commercial, centering on the three rings that symbolized the product.
The original song begins this way:
- Find a wheel and it goes round, round, round
- As it skims along with a happy sound
- As it goes along the ground, ground, ground
- Till it leads you to the one you love.
- Take a ring and add another ring
- And then another ring and then you've got three rings
- Ballantine and now it's premium
- It's a very special glass of beer.
ReferencesThis article does not citeany references or sources. (January 2008)
Please help improve this articleby adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiablematerial may be challenged and removed.
- A Perry Como Discography & CD Companion
- The Perry Como Appreciation Society
- Perry Como at the Internet Movie Database
- Perry Como biography at Epinions.com
- Perry Como obituary BBC News
- Perry Como obituary at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Perry Como obituary at CNN
- Perry Como at Find A Grave at Find-A-Grave
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