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Senior World Magazine: Jerry Vale

by James MacArthur

Most of us have heard and would not be hard-pressed to finish the equation E = ?. But who can finish this equation: George Louis Vitaliano = ?? Stumped, eh? Well, I’m happy to tell you that as sure as E=MC2, George Louis Vitaliano = Jerry Vale, the wonderful singer who has been entertaining us for 40 years.

While playing a charity golf tournament for the National Asthma Association a couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to talk to Jerry (who, by the way, won second -- the dirty rat). I asked him how it all started. He said, “I was singing by the time I was 12.” Then he added with a twinkle, “And shining shoes at a local barber shop to supplement the family income.” Jerry was born and raised in a rough-and-tumble section of New York’s Bronx borough. In the early 1950s, he was singing with a quintet in Yonkers, New York. One night in came Guy Mitchell, who was, for those of you who don’t remember, a recording artist and actor. He told Jerry he really liked his voice and thought it would record well. Guy promised to take him in to see Mitch Miller, who was a musical force at that time. Jerry wasn’t really convinced it would happen. Not in this business of broken promises! But, lo and behold, a short time later he arrived at Mitch Miller’s office with Guy Mitchell, who also accompanied him on the guitar for the audition. Well, Mitch was so impressed that he told Jerry he wanted to record him! Jerry said, “What song?” Mitch said, “Not song ... songs! I want to do eight sides with you.” And so it happened that Jerry recorded ‘Two Purple Shadows On the Snow’ that would become the number one song in Pittsburgh for 12 weeks! I don’t quite know how that translates into today’s success measurements, but it sure was a barnburner back then!

Other hits followed, such as ‘Innamorata,’ which he recorded with Percy Faith and his orchestra, and ‘And This Is My Beloved,’ ‘Have You Looked Into Your Heart,’ ‘Al-Di-La,’ ‘Camelot,’ ‘Pretend You Don’t See Her,’ and ‘You Don’t Know Me.’ Songs that have become standards for all time. First and foremost, Jerry is a romantic singer who enjoys his nickname of “The Silver Fox,” and has become the “Ambassador of Song” for contemporary romantic music. He performs upwards of 30 weeks of the year in the world’s most prestigious resorts, theatres, and cabarets. Whether he’s singing a gentle love song on stage in Atlantic City or stirring a sell-out audience at Yankee Stadium with his patriotic rendition of The National Anthem, his unique artistry is loved!

He has been a frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman and other TV comedies. Also, he has appeared in Martin Scorscese’s film Goodfellas. Soon he will go to Italy for a new movie With Love From Calabria. He and his wife Rita now have a place out here in the Coachella Valley, so we get a chance to see them now and then. If Jerry is performing near where you are, I suggest you make it to the performance. You will be delighted!

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