BATH BEACH/BENSONHURST – Singer Vic Damone, aka Vito Farinola of Bensonhurst, died last Sunday in Miami Beach at age 89, various news outlets reported today.
“He was born Vito Farinola on June 12, 1928, in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, the only son among the five children of Rocco Farinola and the former Mamie Damone. His father was an electrician, and his mother taught piano. He loved singing and was spellbound by Sinatra,” the New York Times’ Obituary noted. “Along the way, he made millions, entertained presidents and royalty, refused a part in “The Godfather,” married five times, had four children and underwent analysis. He also survived a brush with the mob, four divorces, a custody fight over his only son and the suicides of two former wives.”
It seems, Mr. Farinola was a Bath Beach native. In 1940, the family rented lodgings at 8767 16th Avenue (corner of Bath Ave), while he attended and dropped out of the Lafayette High School and sang in St. Finbar’s Choir. His father lived just up the street at 8634 16th Avenue back in 1925, census records show.
Mr. Damone, who used his mother’s last name professionally, finally got his high school diploma in 1997, the Daily News reported back in February of that year:
“With all his accomplishment, when his agent asked him a few months back what he wanted to do for his 50th anniversary in show business, the 68-year-old singer answered, “I want my high school diploma.
“Principal Rosemarie Ferrara at Lafayette was able to determine that between his schoolwork in the 1940s and his life experience since, Damone rated that diploma. “I’m very nervous. I feel like I’m auditioning,” he confided before leading his 64 fellow graduates from the Class of January 1997 into the auditorium.”
He should have graduated in 1947, but quit Lafayette High School and started working to support the family after his father was disabled on the job. His biggest hit was this song in 1949: