1950s chart-topper Laine dies of heart failure at 93

first_imgHe sold more than 100 million records and earned more than 20 gold records. Laine said his musical influences included Bing Crosby, Al Jolson and a goodly number of jazz artists, such as Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday. “When people nowadays say that Elvis was the first white guy to sound black, I have to shake my head; what can you do?” he said in a 1987 interview. “At the time of `That’s My Desire,’ they were saying that I was the only white guy around who sounded black.” Laine’s variety show, “Frankie Laine Time,” ran for two summers, 1955 and 1956, on CBS, and he also appeared in a number of films, including “When You’re Smiling,” and “Sunny Side of the Street.” Laine was born Frank LoVecchio on March 30, 1913, in Chicago, the son of a barber who emigrated from Sicily. He struggled from his teens until well into his 30s – even having to earn a living as a marathon dancer – before hits began coming his way with “That’s My Desire” in 1947. His breakthrough came when Hoagy Carmichael heard him sing in a Los Angeles nightclub and praised his work. In recent years, he remained active in touring and in charity fundraising. He was married to Nan Grey, a leading lady in Hollywood films of the 1930s who died in 1993. Laine is survived by his second wife, Marcia; brother, Phillip LoVecchio of Chicago; daughter, Pamela Donner; grandsons, Joshua and David Donner of Los Angeles; and daughter and son-in-law, Dr. and Mrs. Irwin Steiger of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Frankie Laine, the big-voiced singer whose string of hits made him one of the most popular entertainers in the 1950s, died Tuesday. He was 93. Laine died of heart failure at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, Jimmy Marino, Laine’s producer of more than a dozen years, told The Associated Press. “He was one of the greatest singers around,” Marino said. “He was one of the last Italian crooners type.” With songs such as “That’s My Desire,” “Mule Train,” “Jezebel,” “I Believe” and “That Lucky Old Sun,” Laine was a regular feature of the Top Ten in the years just before rock ‘n’ roll ushered in a new era of popular music. Somewhat younger listeners may remember him best for singing the theme to the television show “Rawhide,” which ran from 1959 to 1966, and the theme for the 1974 movie “Blazing Saddles.” last_img

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