Francesco Paolo Lo Vecchio (1913 - 2007)

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Nicknames: "Frankie Laine"
Birthplace: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA
Death: Died in San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
Cause of death: heart failure
Managed by: Louise Bartnicki
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • wife
    • Anna
      mother
    • John
      father
    • John
      brother

About Francesco Paolo Lo Vecchio

Singer, composer and author Frankie Laine was born March 30, 1913 in Chicago. His real name was Francesco Paulo LoVecchio and he lived in Chicago's Little Italy. Frankie was the oldest of eight children born to Sicilian immigrants John and Anna Lo Vecchio, who had come from Monreale, Sicily near Palermo. His father first worked as a waterboy for the Chicago Railroad and he was eventually promoted to laying rails. His father subsequently went to a Trade School and became a barber. One of his most famous clients was gangster Al Capone. Frankie made his first appearance in a choir at the Immaculate Conception Church where he was an altar boy. At 15 he performed at the Merry garden Ballroom in Chicago while attending Lane Technical School he supported himself by working as a car salesman, bouncer in a beer parlor and as a machinist. He also sang at a weekly radio station (wins) for $5.00 per week. The program director for wins convinced him to change his name to Frankie Laine after he auditioned for the radio. His name was stretched out to Frankie because opera singer Frances Lane (Dorothy Kirsten) and Fanny Rose (Dinah Shore) were singing at nearby radio station WNEW. At 18 he went to Baltimore and participated in a marathon dance contest after coming off the heels of winning ones in Stamford, CT. and Chicago. Laine set an all time marathon dance record of 3501 hours in 145 consecutive days in 1932 at Wilson's Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey and his competition was an Olympic miler named Joey Ray and included 101 other contestants. Altogether he participated in 14 marathons, winning three, second once and fifth twice. His last contest was back in Chicago at the Arcadia where a 14 year old girl was disqualified because the judges found out her age. She later became successful singer, Anita O'Day.

Laine moved to Los Angeles, California and worked at a defense plant. One day he noticed a boy struggling in a neighborhood swimming pool and saved him from drowning. His name was Ronnie Como, son of singer Perry Como. Coincidentally Laine replaced Como on the Frankie Carlone band. Laine was working at Hollywood and Vine in the Billy Berg Club when he was discovered by Hoagy Carmichael after Carmichael heard him sing his song "Old Rocking Chair. The house trio was led by none other than Nat King Cole. Laine introduced the song "That's My Desire" at the Vine Street Club in Hollywood, California. He was also a first class jazz singer and by 1952 he was among the top recording stars and had his own show at the London Palladium. He also made a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II. In 1950 he married Nan Grey, an actress and raised her two children from a previous marriage. He joined ASCAP in 1952, and his chief musical collaborator was Carl Fischer. He toured Britain in 1988 singing as vigorously as ever. He has experienced open heart surgery (quad bi-pass) and still performs. In the 1980s he observed children in a park without shoes in the wintertime and petitioned radio stations across the United States to raise money to buy shoes at Christmas time for poor families with children. thousands and thousands of dollars have been raised to benefit this effort. Some of Laine's finest hits include That's My Desire (1947), Mule Train (1949), Jezebel, Cry of the Wild Goose (1950), On Sunny Side Of The Street (1951), I Believe (1953) and Moonlight Gambler in 1957. He sang the title song for the hit TV series Rawhide that starred Clint Eastwood in the early 1960s. He co-wrote We'll Be Together Again. His wife passed away in recent years and he makes his home in San Diego, California.

Trivia When Mel Brooks advertised in the show business trade papers for a "Frankie Laine-type" voice to sing the title song for Blazing Saddles (1974), he expected a good imitation of the real Laine. Instead, Frankie Laine himself showed at Brooks' office two days later, ready to do the job. He got the job and sang the Oscar-nominated title song again at the Academy Awards the following year.

He had 2 stepchildren from Nan Grey's first marriage.

When performing his signature hit "Mule Train" at the 1950 Academy Awards, he caused the unintentional comic highlight of the evening when his whip wouldn't crack properly. After a series of false starts ("Oops, that's no good. Can we try it again?") that got him, the audience, and music director Alfred Newman laughing uproariously, he was finally able to sing the song through to completion, earning a thunderous standing ovation at the end.

His big breakthrough came when Hoagy Carmichael heard him sing in a Los Angeles nightclub.

Son of Sicilian immigrants.

Earned more than 20 gold records, and sold over 100 million records.

His musical influences included Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday.

Earned a living as a marathon dancer before his big break.

Released an album of country music, "Nashville Connection", his last, all songs written by John Moffat, in 2004.

Brother of Phil Lo Vecchio.

Stepfather of Jan Steiger and Pam Donner.

Tex Ritter sang the title song from High Noon (1952) but Frankie Laine's recording of it topped the charts.

He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6385 Hollywood Boulevard and for Television at 1645 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.

One of his dance partners during the Depression marathons was jazz vocalist Anita O'Day. Red Skelton was an M.C.

Sang the theme song for the TV series '"Rawhide' (1959)', which ran on CBS-TV from 1959 to 1965.

A businessman as well as a singer, Laine owned the Frankie Laine Rambler auto dealership in the Los Angeles Area in the 1960s. ("Rambler" predated the car company's eventual name change to American Motors Corporation, now defunct.).

Personal Quotes In my leaner days I failed many an audition because, I was told, I sounded "too black" . . . I'm certain the confusion was the direct result of the music that influenced me while I was developing my style. I guess I became the first of the so-called blue-eyed soul singers.

[in a 1987 interview] When people nowadays say that [Elvis Presley] was the first white guy to sound black, I have to shake my head; what can you do? At the time of "That's My Desire", they were saying that I was the only white guy around who sounded black.

[(from an interview for the book "Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music"] . . . if I had it to do over again, there is one thing I would change. I would make it [success] happen maybe ten years sooner. Ten years is a good stretch of scuffling. But I scuffled for 17 years before it happened and 17 is a bit much. _____________________________________________________________

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Frankie Laine, the big-voiced singer whose string of hits made him one of the most popular entertainers of the 1950s, has died. He was 93.

Laine died of heart failure at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego on Tuesday, Jimmy Marino, Laine's producer of more than a dozen years, told The Associated Press.

"He was one of the greatest singers around," Marino said. "He was one of the last Italian crooners type."

With songs such as "That's My Desire," "Mule Train," "Jezebel," "I Believe" and "That Lucky Old Sun," Laine was a regular feature of the Top Ten in the years just before rock 'n' roll ushered in a new era of popular music.

Somewhat younger listeners may remember him best for singing the theme to the television show "Rawhide," which ran from 1959 to 1966, and the theme for the 1974 movie "Blazing Saddles."

He sold more than 100 million records and earned more than 20 gold records.

"He will be forever remembered for the beautiful music he brought into this world, his wit and sense of humor, along with the love he shared with so many," Laine's family said in a statement.

Laine said his musical influences included Bing Crosby, Al Jolson and jazz artists including Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday.

"When people nowadays say that Elvis was the first white guy to sound black, I have to shake my head; what can you do?" he said in a 1987 interview. "At the time of 'That's My Desire,' they were saying that I was the only white guy around who sounded black."

He occasionally recorded songs by country singers, such as "Hey Good Lookin"' and "Your Cheatin' Heart" by Hank Williams. In 2004 he released an album called "Nashville Connection."

Laine's variety show "Frankie Laine Time" ran for two summers, 1955 and 1956, on CBS, and he also appeared in films including "When You're Smiling," and "Sunny Side of the Street."

He had a top 25 hit on the Billboard charts in 1969 with "You Gave Me a Mountain," a song written by Marty Robbins.

Laine was born Frank LoVecchio on March 30, 1913, in Chicago, the son of a barber who emigrated from Sicily.

He struggled from his teens until well into his 30s - even having to earn a living as a marathon dancer - before hits began coming his way with "That's My Desire" in 1947. His breakthrough came when Hoagy Carmichael heard him sing in a Los Angeles nightclub and praised his work.

"People like to say, 'Oh, I wouldn't change a thing,"' he said in an interview for the book "Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music." "But if I had it to do over again, there is one thing I would change. I would make it happen maybe 10 years sooner.

"Ten years is a good stretch of scuffling. But I scuffled for 17 years before it happened, and 17 is a bit much."

In recent years, he remained active in touring and in charity fundraising. Punning on the title of one of his hits, he called his 1993 autobiography "That Lucky Old Son."

He made his last performance in 2005 on a PBS television special.

He was married to Nan Grey, a leading lady in Hollywood films of the 1930s who died in 1993.

Survivors include his second wife, Marcia; a brother; and two daughters.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

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Birth: Mar. 30, 1913 Death: Feb. 6, 2007

Singer, Actor. Born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio in Chicago, Illinois to Sicillan immigrants, he was a popular singer of the 1940s and 1950s who is best known for his recording of the theme song for the 1960s television series "Rawhide", and the title song for the 1957 film "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral". After making his movie debut in the 1949 film "Make Believe Ballroom", Laine's other credits included "Sunny Side of the Street" (1951), "Meet Me in Las Vegas" (1956), and "He Laughed Last" (1956). His television credits include "The Nat King Cole Show", "Toast of the Town", and "What's My Line?". Laine's other hits songs include "Moonlight Gambler", "I Believe", "Mule Train" and "Cool Water". He died of complications from hip replacement surgery in San Diego. (bio by: C.S.)


 

Burial: Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea.


Maintained by: Find A Grave Originally Created by: C.S. Record added: Feb 06, 2007 Find A Grave Memorial# 17834566



      
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Frankie Laine's Timeline

1913
March 13, 1913
Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA
2007
February 6, 2007
Age 93
San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
????
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Cremated, Ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean