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Perry Como

Perry Como
Perry Como

Pierino Como was born on 18 May 1912 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. He was the seventh son in a family of thirteen children.

When he was ten, Perry got a job sweeping and sharpening in a local barber shop. By the age of 14, he had his own shop and two barbers working for him.

Perry would sing while cutting hair and, eventually (in 1933), a friend persuaded him to audition as a vocalist with Freddy Carlone's Dance Band. He won the job and decided to join the band even though he would be earning less than a quarter of the income he was getting from his barber shop.

His girlfriend from Canonsburg, Roselle Belline, went with him. They were married on 31 July 1933.

After three years touring with Freddy Carlone, Perry was offered a job with the Ted Weems Band which he toured with for six years. Perry and Roselle's first son, Ronnie, was born when Perry was preforming with Ted Weems in Chicago. Despite threats that he would be fiired, Perry left the stage in the middle of a performance to be with Roselle. After Ronnie was born, the Comos were not able to have any more natural children, but later adopted a boy, David, and a girl, Terri.

In 1941, Ted Weems joined the Armed Forces and his orchestra was disbanded. Perry got an offer from CBS to star in his own nightly, 15-minute radio show in New York.

Perry Como
Perry Como

This quickly led to a recording contract with RCA Victor but it was another two years before Perry had a major hit with Till the End of Time. Perry's recording career began in the middle of the musicians' strike which spelled the end of the big band era and the rise of the solo vocalist and doo wop groups. As a result of the strike, Perry's first eight recordings (from Goodbbye Sue to Lilli Marlene) were made without instrumental backing.

Perry had a string of hit records throughout the late forties and fifties, including Catch a Falling Star, which won the first Best Male Vocal Grammy award in 1958.

Perry's radio show was transferred to television in 1948 as The Chesterfield Supper Club. In 1950, this became the Perry Como Show which ran until 1959. From 1960 to 1963, Perry hosted The Kraft Music Hall.

In 1993, Perry underwent an operation for bladder cancer and recovered well.

His wife, Roselle, died as a result of a sudden heart attack in August 1998, shortly after their 65th wedding anniversary. She was 84 years old. At the time, the couple had twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Perry Como died on Saturday May 12, 2001. Perry died in his sleep at his home in Jupiter Inlet Beach Colony in Florida. He was 87.

Movies Featuring Perry Como

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