Legendary crooner Perry Como died in his sleep on May 12th at his home in Florida; he was eighty-eight.
Born Pierino Roland Como in Canonsburg, Pa. on May 18th, 1912, Como apprenticed as a barber, a trade he practiced through his teens. By his early twenties, Como was singing pop songs of the era for his customers, eventually linking up with Ted Weems and his Orchestra, who gave him his first featured singing spot.
Como honed his trademark laid-back vocal style by singing on several radio shows and he later made his first recordings in the early Forties. He landed his first hit in 1945 with “Til The End of Time,” a million-copy selling single from the film, A Song to Remember, which sparked a dazzling string of hits. Some of Como’s most enduring singles (“Prisoner of Love,” “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes”) were recorded and released before 1955, when Billboard began ranking songs. Como nevertheless continued his hit run, peeling off twenty-seven Top Forty hits in his lifetime. He was particularly productive up until rock & roll’s shift into the popular mainstream. Nineteen of Como’s hits were recorded between 1955 and 1959, including three Number One singles.
Despite Como’s early success singing for film, the small screen also provided bolstered his popularity. In 1948 he began hosting the immensely popular Chesterfield Supper Club, which earned him an armful of Emmy Awards.
Though Como’s popularity would never quite match his late-Fifties run, he still charted two singles, “It’s Impossible” and “And I Love You So” in 1970 and 1973, respectively. During the Eighties he continued to visit television sets by hosting a series of Christmas specials.