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Frankie Laine Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (15) | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (4)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died in San Diego, California, USA  (cardio-vascular disease)
Birth NameFrancesco Paolo Lo Vecchio
Nicknames Mr. Rhythm
America's Number One Song Stylist
Old Man Jazz
Old Leather Lungs

Mini Bio (1)

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 water-boy 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 by-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 the 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 (1959), 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.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mike McKinley <alovelyway@aol.com>

Spouse (2)

Marcia Ann Kline (5 July 1999 - 6 February 2007) (his death)
Nan Grey (15 June 1950 - 25 July 1993) (her death)

Trivia (15)

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, 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.
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.
Brother of Phil Lo Vecchio.
Stepfather of Jan Steiger and Pam Donner.
Tex Ritter sang the title song from High Noon (1952) but Laine's recording reached No. 5 in the Billboard charts, besting Ritter's version, which peaked at #12.
He was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6385 Hollywood Blvd. and for Television at 1645 Vine St.
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 AngelesaArea in the 1960s. Rambler was a model manufactured by Nash Motors, which eventually changed its name to American Motors Corporation, and manufactured the Gremlin, the Pacer and the Javelin. The company went out of business in 1988.
Was first and primarily a popular singer. With songs on the charts as late as the 1970s he was most popular during the late 1940s and early 1950s when he had several top 20 hits.

Personal Quotes (3)

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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