Vic Damone enjoyed a charmed career across several decades, rising from a teenage usher at New York's Paramount Theater to a crooner of pop hits, movie roles, television appearances and lasting friendships with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Perry Como.
He grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and quit Lafayette High School to work at the Paramount, where he witnessed the big bands and singing stars of the moment. While working as the theater's elevator operator one night, he sang for Como between floors, and the two became friends.
At age 18, Damone appeared on “Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts” in 1947 and won first place. Backstage, he met Milton Berle, who liked Damone's voice enough to help arrange for the teen to sing at the La Martinique nightclub.
He began making regular appearances on WHN Radio in New York, and soon was back at the Paramount, this time onstage with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. He signed to Mercury Records and had his first Top 10 hit with “I Have But One Heart.” Then came a series of movie parts in Hollywood, beginning with “Rich, Young and Pretty.”
After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, he returned to Hollywood and appeared in “Kismet” and other films before devoting himself again to singing. He had an active romantic life, was married five times and divorced four. When he broke his engagement to the daughter of a mob boss, Damone said years later, he was nearly thrown out a window at the Edison Hotel in New York.
He released his final album of new material in 2002 and announced his retirement from regular performing. His autobiography was called “Singing Was the Easy Part.”
Damone died Feb. 11, 2018, of complications from a respiratory illness at a Miami Beach hospital. He was 89.