Vic Damone, a singer of the popular American songbook who admired and was admired by Frank Sinatra, died on Sunday at age 89. His daughter Victoria Damone said the cause of death was complications from a respiratory illness. Damone's career started taking off when he tied for first place in the radio show Arthur Godfrey's Talent Hunt, but his first break was trapping Perry Como in an elevator while he was an usher at New York's Paramount Theater; after an impromptu guerrilla audition, Como referred the 14-year-old Damone to a local bandleader, his family said in a statement.
Damone was born Vito Farinola in Brooklyn in 1928, the son of immigrants from Bari, Italy. (Damone was his mother's maiden name.) He dropped out of high school after his father was injured at his job as an electrician. He went on to sell millions of records, scoring hits including "Again," "My Heart Cries for You," "On the Street Where You Live," and the title song of the 1957 Cary Grant classic An Affair to Remember.
Damone was originally cast as the wedding coroner in The Godfather, ultimately losing the role to Al Martino. He performed into his 70s, retiring to Palm Beach, Florida, due to illness. Damone married his first wife, Italian across Pier Angeli, in 1954, after her mother refused to let her marry James Dean, The Associated Press reports. After their divorce in 1959, he went on to marry four other women, including actress-singer Dihann Carroll from 1987 to 1996. His fifth wife, fashion designer Rena Rowan, died in 2016. Damone is survived by two sisters, three daughters, and six grandchildren. Peter Weber