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  • Diana Schneidman

Perry Como: His life lessons

First some background: I had husband Wayne remove solitaire from my computer due to my moderate addiction. So instead, I now cruise Wikipedia and YouTube for articles and videos of limited cultural significance.

This week I read about Perry Como. You may not remember him, but Como (1912-2001) was a singer and TV performer of the mid-20th century and had his own show in the 50s and 60s.

His singing sounded kind of like Andy Williams … if you remember Andy. OK, so you don’t. He also sounded kind of like Frank Sinatra. You do know who he is, don’t you? Anyway, here’s a taste of Perry (with the Carpenters).

What I didn’t know about Como when I was a child was his reputation for exceptional integrity.

Here are some examples:

  • He married his wife at age 21 and they were happily married, with no scandals, till her death in 1998.

  • As a young man, he quit performing in big bands when his first child was young. Instead, he temporarily returned to his original trade of barbering in his Pennsylvania hometown so he could be home with his family.

  • He turned down an opportunity to meet the British Queen Mother after a performance because his staff were not invited.

  • Although he was an experienced barber, advisors recommended he claim to have been a coal miner instead. He refused.

  • Known for his trademark cardigan sweaters, he later performed in concert only in tuxedos because “it shows respect for the audience.”

  • He benefited his hometown of Cannonsburg by persuading RCA, his record label, to open a record-pressing plant there. (He was with RCA for 44 years, an industry record.)

  • A lifelong Catholic, he banned publicity when he and his wife met the Pope. However, a photo of the occasion appeared in the press because it was released by the Vatican’s press department, not by Como’s people.

Perry died at his home after a long, successful career, proving nice guys can finish first.

I write this post simply because I enjoy this story. So much more refreshing than Eva Longoria’s embarrassing breakup with her no-good husband and the excessive publicity given today to why-are-they-famous? reality stars.

Perry and the Carpenters

Originally posted 12-6-10

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