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When I woke up on the morning of May 13, 2001 my wife informed me that the great Perry Como had passed away last night. I was saddened by this news because I always held a spot in my heart for Perry. One of the fondest memories I have of my Father has to do with Perry Como's Christmas special. Every year we waited in anticipation of his show, which was done in exotic locations all over the world. For those few hours we sat down and watched him perform many classic songs. Those few hours gave me memories that will last a lifetime.
On May 18, 1912 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania Pierino Ronald Como was born. He was one of 13 children and the last of seven boys. At the young age of 12 he became an apprenticed barber and two years later he took over the business. During his years as a barber he would serenade his customers while he trimmed and shaved them. In 1933, which was the same year he married Roselle Belline, he auditioned and got the job as a vocalist for the Freddie Carlone band. The only drawback was that the pay was far less than what he was making as a barber. Nonetheless he traveled with the band for three years until Ted Weems who happened to hear him on stage performing offered him a job. For the next six years Perry traveled all over the country performing. Things did not look good in 1943 when Ted Weems went to serve in World War II. It appeared that Perry was heading back to Canonsburg and his barbershop.
As fortune would have it he was offered his own radio show by CBS. Soon after RCA Victor signed him to a recording contract. It took Perry two years to land his first big hit with Till the End of Time. In 1948 he became the host of the television version of The Chesterfield Supper Club, which he had already been doing on radio for the past four years. From 1950-1959 he hosted his own show titled The Perry Como Show. From 1959 to the mid 1960's he hosted Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall. After he finished hosting his weekly shows he decided to occasionally perform special shows, which were taped from exotic locations all over the world. His career has spanned seven decades and in that time he has recorded numerous hits including Hot Diggity, Papa Loves Mambo, Dream Along With Me and Catch a Falling Star. It was the latter hit that won him a Grammy in 1958 as Best Male Singer.
His style and demeanor gave him the nicknames Mr. Nice Guy and Mr. Class. I wish to thank Mr. Como for giving us decades of enjoyment and entertainment. Each time I hear a Perry Como song I will always dream along with him and remember the times I watched his Christmas specials with my Dad.
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