Project Description

Pierino Ronald “Perry” Como (May 18, 1912 – May 12, 2001) was an American singer and television personality. During a career spanning more than half a century, he recorded exclusively for the RCA Victor label after signing with them in 1943. “Mr. C.”, as he was nicknamed, sold millions of records for Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and pioneered a weekly musical variety television show, which set the standards for the genre and proved to be one of the most successful in television history. Como was seen weekly on television from 1949 to 1963, then continued hosting the Kraft Music Hall variety program monthly until 1967. His television shows and seasonal specials were broadcast throughout the world. Also a popular recording artist, Perry Como produced numerous hit records; his combined success on television and popular recordings was not matched by any other artist of the time.

Como’s appeal spanned generations and he was widely respected for both his professional standards and the conduct in his personal life. In the official RCA Records Billboard magazine memorial, his life was summed up in these few words: “50 years of music and a life well lived. An example to all.” Composer Ervin Drake said of him, “… occasionally someone like Perry comes along and won’t ‘go with the flow’ and still prevails in spite of all the bankrupt others who surround him and importune him to yield to their values. Only occasionally.”

Perry went on the air for CBS on March 12, 1943. Rockwell’s next move was to book Como into the renowned Copacabana Night Club for two weeks beginning on June 10, 1943. One week later he signed his first RCA Victor contract and three days after that cut his first record for the company, “Goodbye, Sue.” It was the beginning of a 44 year professional relationship. He became a very successful performer in theater and night club engagements; Como’s initial two weeks at the Copacabana in June stretched into August. There were times when Frank Sinatra would ask Como to fill in for him at his Paramount Theater performances. The crooning craze was at its height during this time and the “bobby soxer” and “swooner” teenage girls who were wild about Sinatra added Como to their list, a “swooners” club voting him “Crooner of the Year” in 1943. The line for a Perry Como Paramount performance was three deep and wound around the city block. Como’s popularity also extended to a more mature audience when he played the Versailles and returned to the Copacabana, where the management placed “SRO-Swooning Ruled Out” cards on their tables.