Vic Damone Biography

Vito Rocco Farinola, 12 June 1928, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. A romantic balladeer with a strong, smooth baritone voice, Damone took singing lessons while working as an usher and elevator operator at New York’s Paramount Theater. After appearing with Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, he sang at La Martinique Club, a venue known as a nursery for young vocalists. When he started recording for Mercury Records in 1947, his first chart successes included ‘I Have But One Heart’, ‘You Do’ and ‘Say Something Sweet To Your Sweetheart’ (with Patti Page). In 1949 he had two million-sellers: ‘Again’, from the Ida Lupino movie Roadhouse; and ‘You’re Breaking My Heart’. In the late 40s Damone also had his own CBS radio show, Saturday Night Serenade. Until he signed with Columbia Records he was a competent singer, but in reality he was merely a Frank Sinatra copyist. That Towering Feeling! in 1956 was a giant step, and remains one of his greatest albums. His movie career started in 1951 when he featured in Rich, Young And Pretty, the first in a series of musicals with soprano Jane Powell. These included Athena (1953), the Sigmund Romberg biopic Deep In My Heart (1954) and Hit The Deck (1955). Damone also appeared in The Strip (1951), a musical mystery melodrama, which featured Mickey Rooney, and jazz stars Jack Teagarden, Louis Armstrong, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines and Barney Bigard; and a screen adaptation of the stage musical Kismet (1955), co-starring with Howard Keel, Anne Blythe and Dolores Gray.

His many record hits during the 50s included ‘Tzena, Tzena, Tzena’ (adapted from an Israeli song), ‘Cincinnati Dancing Pig’, ‘My Heart Cries for You’, ‘My Truly, Truly Fair’, ‘Here In My Heart’ (a UK number 1 for Al Martino), ‘April In Portugal’, ‘Eternally’ (the theme from Charlie Chaplin’s movie Limelight), ‘Ebb Tide’, ‘On The Street Where You Live’ (Damone’s third million-seller) and ‘An Affair To Remember’ (one of prolific film composer Harry Warren’s last songs). He was also in the album charts with That Towering Feeling!, and had his own television series in 1956/7.

In keeping with many other singers of his kind, Damone suffered from the changing musical climate of the 60s and 70s, although he did make some well-regarded albums such as Linger Awhile With Vic Damone and On the Swingin’ Side, and had a US Top 30 single in 1965 with ‘You Were Only Fooling (While I Was Falling In Love)’. He made a remarkable comeback in the UK in the early 80s, chiefly because his back-catalogue was plugged incessantly by BBC Radio 2 presenter David Jacobs. Suddenly, he was in fashion again. Most of his old albums were reissued, and many of his hit singles, and others, were repackaged on Vic Damone Sings The Great Songs. Throughout the 80s he recorded several new albums, promoting them in the UK via regular concert tours. In 1987 he was married (and divorced in 1996), for the third time, to actress Diahann Carroll. In 1991 Damone played Michael’s Pub in New York, his first club appearance in the city for more than 10 years. He suffered a mild stoke in 2000. The following year Damone played his final engagement at the Kravis Center, West Palm Beach, Florida.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.