Legendary singer Vic Damone passed away on Sunday at the age of 89, his family tells Fox News.
Damone, whose smooth baritone led Frank Sinatra to famously declare he “had the best pipes in the business,” died at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla. surrounded by several close relatives.
Damone was a star of scores of television shows and movies, but the crooner did not consider himself a showman in the mold of Milton Berle and Sammy Davis, Jr.
“I never thought of myself that way,” Damone wrote in his memoir, “Singing Was the Easy Part.”
“That wasn’t my particular gift,” he wrote. “My gift was singing.”
With over 2,500 recordings under his belt, Damone was part of the golden age of lounge singers who came to fame after World War II, including Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin and Perry Como.
Damone’s first big break came at the age of 14, with Como’s help. Damone’s was forced to drop out of high school and take a job as an usher at the Paramount Theater in New York City, where he bumped into Como in an elevator. Damone stopped the elevator between floors and started singing.
He asked Como on whether he should continue voice lessons and Como said simply, “Keep singing!”
Fate intervened for Damone again in the summer of 1946, when Sinatra was playing poker at a friend’s Manhattan apartment, and one of Sinatra’s classics, “Night and Day,” came on the radio. Sinatra was astounded when the singer turned out to be Damone, live in the studio. Sinatra phoned the radio station and told Damone: “This is Frank Sinatra, and I want you to stop singing my songs.”
Damone thought he was being pranked and barked back, “Yeah, if you’re Frank Sinatra, then I’m the Pope.”
Months later, Sinatra ended up introducing Damone at a charity fundraiser in Madison Square Garden.
“I’d like to introduce to you Vic Damone,” Sinatra said. “This kid’s a really great singer. He’s got stardust on his shoulders.”
Damone was born Vito Farinola on June 12, 1928, in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. His parents, Rocco and Mamie (Damone) Farinola, were immigrants from Bari, Italy. His father was an electrician and his mother taught piano.