It’s a busy month, so I thought we’d hit something reasonably close to home after work. Evil Twin and I met up once I got off, and headed down to the hometown of Perry Como.
You might recognize the name, but few people realize how much of a contribution he made in the entertainment world. A Grammy. A Peabody Award. Kennedy Center Honors. 5 Emmys. A Lifetime Achievement Grammy. And three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not bad for a barber born to immigrant parents in a small town. Yup.
That small town is Canonsburg, PA. He started working at a barber shop at 10. By 13, he had his own chair. He had his own shop at 14, and was (along with a brother) supporting the family; his father no longer able to work, due to a heart condition. He began singing while he worked, and became rather famous as a singing barber.
His uncle convinced him to come work for him at the Hotel Conneaut. (We were just at the park last month to see if it was still operating) His singing there caught notice, and he was offered a job doing that, making about 1/5 of what he made as a barber.
One thing led to another, and before WWII was over, he’d had a recording career and dabbled in movie acting. He decided, though, that TV was the way to go, hosting the Chesterfield Supper Club. Later came the Perry Como Show, then Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall. He took on many TV shows over the years, but what stands out for most was his holiday specials, which ran from 1948 to 1994.
He died in his sleep in 2001, 3 years after his hometown dedicated a statue in his honor.