Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Vito Rocco Farinola, 12 June '28, Brooklyn NYC) Singer. Worked as usher at Paramount Theatre, won Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout show age 15, helped into cabaret NYC by Milton Berle. Own radio show on CBS '47--8, recorded for Mercury, first hit 'I Have But One Heart' '47, then million- sellers 'Again' and no. 1 'You're Breaking My Heart' '49. Film debut in Rich, Young and Pretty with Jane Powell and the Four Freshman '51; same year sang 'Don't Blame Me' by Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh in The Strip, musical melodrama with Mickey Rooney, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines, Barney Bigard. Damone/Powell also together in Athena (he sang 'The Girl Next Door', first sung by Judy Garland in Meet Me In St Louis '44), duo guest shot in Sigmund Romberg biopic Deep In My Heart (both '54), bigger roles in Hit The Deck '55 (big song was Vincent Youmans's 'Sometimes I'm Happy'). Columbia records in '50s incl. his third gold disc, fine version of Lerner and Loewe classic 'On The Street Where You Live', no. 4 USA '56: deliberately held back by producers of My Fair Lady film, then no. 1 UK '58. Title song from film An Affair To Remember hit in both USA/UK '57; LP Closer Than A Kiss with mus. dir. Frank DeVol; then on Capitol (Linger Awhile '62), WB (Country Love Songs '65), RCA (On The South Side Of Chicago '67). Semi- retired into real-estate business, then remarkable renaissance early '80s in UK, mainly due to persistent plays by BBC disc jockey David Jacobs, especially of '61 track 'The Pleasure Of Her Company' from the Fred Astaire film. His voice was described as 'the best set of pipes in the business' by Frank Sinatra. He married actress-singer Diahann Carroll.