Crooner Jerry Vale Dies at 83

Courtesy of Everett Collection
Jerry Vale, photographed in the late 1960s.

UPDATE: The Italian-American pop singer recorded dozens of albums for Columbia, with his hits including "You Don't Know Me," "Have You Looked Into Your Heart" and "Al Di La."

Jerry Vale, the popular Italian-American velvet-voiced crooner of the 1950s and '60s, died on Sunday in the Palm Springs area, KESQ-TV reported. He was 83.

A tenor with a smooth, polished delivery, Vale was a longtime fixture at Columbia Records who recorded more than 50 albums and hundreds of songs. He first hit the charts in 1953 with “You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart” (arranged by Percy Faith and his orchestra).

His other enchanting hits included "Volare," "Al Di La," “Two Purple Shadows,” a cover of Eddy Arnold's “You Don’t Know Me,” “I Live Each Day,” "Have You Looked Into Your Heart," "Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad)" and "My Little Girl (Angel All A-Glow)."

A popularizer and revivalist of Italian love songs, Vale also showcased his love of Italian music with "Innamorata (Sweetheart)," released in 1956, "I Have But One Heart" (1962) and "Arrivederci, Roma" (1963).

Vale was born Genaro Louis Vitaliano on July 8, 1930, in the Bronx. As a teenager, he won a singing contest at a local nightspot and performed at supper clubs throughout New York. Mitch Miller signed him to a contract with Columbia in the early 1950s.

"Here's a boy that should have them eating out of his hand in no time flat," Miller told Billboard magazine in 1953. "There's lots of voice in him."

The boyish Vale sang all over the world during his long career, including at Carnegie Hall in New York and in Las Vegas, where his friend, Frank Sinatra, set him up with a gig at The Sands in the '50s that would last for 22 weeks, four shows a day.

Vale performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, made cameo appearances as himself in the Martin Scorsese films Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995) and played a lounge singer in the independent comedy A Wake in Providence (1999).

A lover of baseball who as a kid played stickball in the streets, Vale owned a Florida minor-league team, the Daytona Beach Admirals, that he sold to the New York Mets in the late 1980s. He often sang the national anthem at Yankee Stadium, and his gold record of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was displayed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

His 2000 autobiography, A Singer's Life, was written with Richard Grudens. He reportedly suffered a stroke in 2002 and did not perform in recent years.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Rita, a son and a daughter.

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