Rhythm", "Old Leather Lungs", and "Mr. Steel Tonsils". He sang well-known theme songs for many movie Western soundtracks, including To Yuma , Gunfight at the O. Laine sang an eclectic variety of song styles and genres, stretching from big band crooning to pop , western-themed songs, gospel , rock , folk , jazz , and blues. He did not sing the soundtrack song for High Noon , which was sung by Tex Ritter , but his own version with somewhat altered lyrics, omitting the name of the antagonist, Frank Miller was the one that became a bigger hit, nor did he sing the theme to another show he is commonly associated with— Champion the Wonder Horse sung by Mike Stewart —but released his own, subsequently more popular, version.
Laine's enduring popularity was illustrated in June , when a TV-advertised compilation called Hits reached No. The accomplishment was achieved nearly 60 years after his debut on the UK chart, 64 years after his first major U. His parents had emigrated from Monreale , Sicily , to Chicago 's Near West Side , in " Little Italy ," where his father worked at one time as the personal barber for gangster Al Capone. Laine's family appears to have had several organized crime connections, and young Francesco was living with his grandfather when the latter was killed by rival gangsters.
The eldest of eight children, Laine grew up in the Old Town neighborhood first at N. North Park Avenue and later at W. Schiller Street  and got his first taste of singing as a member of the choir in the Church of the Immaculate Conception 's elementary school across the street from the North Park Avenue home. He later attended Lane Technical High School , where he helped to develop his lung power and breath control by joining the track and field and basketball teams.
He realized he wanted to be a singer when he missed time in school to see Al Jolson 's current talking picture, The Singing Fool.
Jolson would later visit Laine when both were filming pictures in , and at about this time, Jolson remarked that Laine was going to put all the other singers out of business. Even in the s, his vocal abilities were enough to get him noticed by a slightly older "in crowd" at his school, who began inviting him to parties and to local dance clubs, including Chicago's Merry Garden Ballroom.
At 17, he sang before a crowd of 5, at The Merry Garden Ballroom to such applause that he ended up performing five encores on his first night. Laine was giving dance lessons for a charity ball at the Merry Garden when he was called to the bandstand to sing:. Soon I found myself on the main bandstand before this enormous crowd, Laine recalled. I was really nervous, but I started singing 'Beside an Open Fireplace,' a popular song of the day.
It was a sentimental tune and the lyrics choked me up. When I got done, the tears were streaming down my cheeks and the ballroom became quiet.
I was very nearsighted and couldn't see the audience. I thought that the people didn't like me. Some of his other early influences during this period included Enrico Caruso , Carlo Buti , and especially Bessie Smith —a record of whose somehow wound up in his parents' collection:. I can still close my eyes and visualize its blue and purple label.
The first time I laid the needle down on that record I felt cold chills and an indescribable excitement. It was my first exposure to jazz and the blues , although I had no idea at the time what to call those magical sounds. I just knew I had to hear more of them! Another singer who influenced him at this time was falsetto crooner, Gene Austin.
Laine worked after school at a drugstore that was situated across the street from a record store that continually played hit records by Gene Austin over their loudspeakers. He would swab down the windows in time to Austin's songs. Many years later, Laine related the story to Austin when both were guests on the popular television variety show Shower of Stars.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Laine signed on as a member of The Merry Garden's marathon dance company and toured with them, working dance marathons during the Great Depression setting the world record of 3, hours with partner Ruthie Smith at Atlantic City 's Million Dollar Pier in Still billed as Frank LoVecchio, he would entertain the spectators during the fifteen-minute breaks the dancers were given each hour.
During his marathon days, he worked with several up-and-coming entertainers, including Rose Marie , Red Skelton , and a year-old Anita O'Day , for whom he served as a mentor as noted by Laine in a interview by David Miller. Laine befriended Cole in Los Angeles, when the latter's career was just beginning to gain momentum. They remained close friends throughout the remainder of Cole's life, and Laine was one of the pall bearers at Cole's funeral. Laine's rhythmic style was ill-suited to the sweet sounds of the Carlone band, and the two soon parted company.
Success continued to elude Laine, and he spent the next 10 years "scuffling"; alternating between singing at small jazz clubs on both coasts and a series of jobs, including those of a bouncer, dance instructor, used car salesman, agent, synthetic leather factory worker, and machinist at a defense plant. Often homeless during his "scuffling" phases, he hit the lowest point of his career, when he was sleeping on a bench in Central Park.
I would sneak into hotel rooms and sleep on the floor. In fact, I was bodily thrown out of 11 different New York hotels. I stayed in YMCAs and with anyone who would let me flop.
Eventually I was down to my last four cents, and my bed became a roughened wooden bench in Central Park. I used my four pennies to buy four tiny Baby Ruth candy bars and rationed myself to one a day. The program director, Jack Coombs, thought that "LoVecchio" was "too foreign sounding, and too much of a mouthful for the studio announcers," so he Americanized it to "Lane.
WINS, deciding that they no longer needed a jazz singer, dropped him. With the help of bandleader Jean Goldkette , he got a job with a sustainer nonsponsored radio show at NBC. As he was about to start, Germany attacked Poland and all sustainer broadcasts were pulled off the air in deference to the needs of the military. He quit singing for what was perhaps the fifth or sixth time of his already long career.
While working at the plant, he met a trio of girl singers, and became engaged to the lead singer. The group had been noticed by Johnny Mercer 's Capitol Records , and convinced Laine to head out to Hollywood with them as their agent. In , he moved to California, where he sang in the background of several films, including The Harvey Girls , and dubbed the singing voice for an actor in the Danny Kaye comedy The Kid from Brooklyn.
Fischer , the latter of whom was to be his songwriting partner, musical director, and piano accompanist until his death in When the war ended, Laine soon found himself "scuffling" again, and was eventually given a place to stay by Jarvis. Jarvis also did his best to help promote the struggling singer's career, and Laine soon had a small, regional following. In the meantime, Laine would make the rounds of the bigger jazz clubs, hoping that the featured band would call him up to perform a number with them.
In late , Hoagy Carmichael heard him singing at Billy Berg's club in Los Angeles , and this was when success finally arrived. Not knowing that Carmichael was in the audience, Laine sang the Carmichael-penned standard " Rockin' Chair " when Slim Gaillard called him up to the stage to sing.
This eventually led to a contract with the newly established Mercury records. Laine cut his first record in , for a fledgling company called " Bel-Tone Records. The label soon folded, and Laine was picked up by Atlas Records, a "race label" that initially hired him to imitate his friend Nat "King" Cole.
Cole would occasionally "moonlight" for other labels, under pseudonyms , while under contract to " Capitol ", and as he had previously recorded some sides for Atlas, they reasoned that fans would assume that "Frankie Laine" was yet another pseudonym for "Cole". The ruse worked and the record sold moderately well, although limited to the "race" market. Laine cut the remainder of his songs for Atlas in his own style, including standards such as " Roses of Picardy " and " Moonlight in Vermont ". Kitzel" who was a featured player on the Jack Benny radio show.
In it, Laine plays a peanut vendor at a ball game and can be heard shouting out lines like "It's a munchy, crunchy bag of lunchy! It was played by Laine's friend, disc jockey Al Jarvis, and gained the singer a small West Coast following. Even after his discovery by Carmichael, Laine still was considered only an intermission act at Billy Berg's.
His next big break came when he dusted off a fifteen-year-old song that few people remembered in , " That's My Desire ". Laine had picked up the song from songstress June Hart a half a dozen years earlier, when he sang at the College Inn in Cleveland.
Altogether, he participated in 14 marathons, winning three, second once and fifth twice. His last contest was back in Chicago at the Arcadia where a year-old girl was disqualified because the judges found out her age. She later became successful singer, Anita O'Day. Laine moved to Los Angeles, California and worked at a defense plant. One day, he noticed a boy struggling in a neighborhood swimming pool and saved him from drowning. His name was Ronnie Como, son of singer Perry Como.
Coincidentally, Laine replaced Como on the Frankie Carlone band. The house trio was led by none other than Nat 'King' Cole. He was also a first class jazz singer and, by , he was among the top recording stars and had his own show at the London Palladium.
He also made a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II. In , he married Nan Grey , an actress, and raised her two children from a previous marriage. He toured Britain in , singing as vigorously as ever. He has experienced open heart surgery quad by-pass and still performs. In the s, he observed children in a park without shoes in the wintertime and petitioned radio stations across the United States to raise money to buy shoes at Christmas time for poor families with children.
Jo Stafford. Hey Good Lookin'. Hey Joe. Hey, Good Lookin'. High Noon do Not Forsake Me. I Believe. Love Is A Golden Ring. Moonlight Gambler. Monday 23 March Tuesday 24 March Wednesday 25 March Thursday 26 March Friday 27 March Saturday 28 March Monday 30 March Tuesday 31 March Wednesday 1 April Thursday 2 April Friday 3 April Saturday 4 April Sunday 5 April Monday 6 April Tuesday 7 April Wednesday 8 April Thursday 9 April Friday 10 April Saturday 11 April Sunday 12 April Monday 13 April Tuesday 14 April Wednesday 15 April Friday 17 April Saturday 18 April Sunday 19 April Monday 20 April Tuesday 21 April Wednesday 22 April Thursday 23 April Friday 24 April Saturday 25 April Sunday 26 April Monday 27 April Tuesday 28 April Wednesday 29 April Thursday 30 April Friday 1 May Saturday 2 May Sunday 3 May Monday 4 May Tuesday 5 May Wednesday 6 May Thursday 7 May Friday 8 May Saturday 9 May Sunday 10 May Monday 11 May Tuesday 12 May Wednesday 13 May Thursday 14 May Friday 15 May Saturday 16 MayView credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the Vinyl release of Deuces Wild on Discogs. Label: Music For Pleasure - SMFP • Format: Vinyl LP, Album, Stereo • Country: Australia • 4/5(2).