Tony Romano (musician)

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For other people named Tony Romano, see Tony Romano (disambiguation).
Tony Romano
Born (1915-09-26)September 26, 1915
Origin Madera, California
Died March 4, 2005(2005-03-04) (aged 89)
Santa Ana, California
Genres Jazz
Occupations Guitarist, Performer
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1930–2000
Associated acts Joe Venuti, Frances Langford, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope
Notable instruments
Gibson L-5

Tony Romano (26 September 1915 – 4 March 2005) was an American jazz guitarist, singer, composer and performer. Romano performed on radio programs and appeared in Hollywood musical productions in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. He became most noted as the "side-man" and musical accompanist to Bob Hope and Frances Langford during their USO tours in World War II, Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Early life[edit]

Romano was born 26 September 1915 in Madera, California, one of nine children of an Italian immigrant shoemaker. According to Romano, his father played both violin and guitar and the entire family was musical. He said, "In our family, if you didn't sing, you didn't eat."[1] In his youth, he played violin but took up the guitar after being inspired by Eddie Lang. At 17, Romano moved to Hollywood where he studied guitar with Paramount Studio's guitarist George Smith.[1]

Career[edit]

Romano (right) with Hal Block, Bob Hope, Barney Dean, George Patton and Frances Langford during WW2

Romano built his career as a guitarist and singer for radio programs and Hollywood movie productions in the 1930s. He first worked on the Al Pearce radio program, then at Warner Brothers, where he composed arrangements for Dick Powell. Romano's 16-piece orchestra was the feature band for Morey Amsterdam and Mabel Todd[disambiguation needed]'s radio show.[2] He also worked on the Lucky Strike Hit Parade, at 20th Century Fox and later on the Pepsodent radio show for NBC.[1]

In September 1942, Bob Hope asked Romano to accompany him on a his initial USO tour to entertain troops at bases in Alaska and the Aleutians. Hope had already enlisted singer Frances Langford and comedian Jerry Colonna but needed a musician and asked Colonna for a recommendation. Colonna said, "Get Tony Romano. Best guitar in the business."[3]

The foursome of Hope, Langford, comedian Jack Pepper and Romano performed in England, Sicily, North Africa and the South Pacific during World War II.[4] They also toured in 1948 during the Berlin Airlift and in Korea in the 1950s. During the Vietnam War, Romano accompanied Langford without Hope on USO circuit tours in Southeast Asia.

In between USO tours, Romano performed on several programs, including the Jack Carson radio show and recorded his own music (his recording Stars Fell on Alabama was a hit in 1956) as well as arranged songs for Johnny Mercer, Bing Crosby and others.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Romano was married to singer/actress Barbara Hayden. They had two children, Richard Niles and Lisa Hayden-Miller. Romano died of heart failure on 4 March 2005 at a rest home in Santa Ana, California.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Smith, Don (12 June 1981). "Tony Romano Plays Laguna". Los Angeles Times. p. OC_D1. 
  2. ^ Nye, Carroll (25 November 1936). "'Laff and Swing' Series: Funster Morey Amsterdam, Wife and Tony Romano's Orchestra to be featured". Los Angeles Times. p. 9. 
  3. ^ Faith, William Robert (April 29, 2003). Bob Hope: a life in comedy (revised ed.). Da Capo Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-306-81207-1. 
  4. ^ Hope, Bob (7 August 1944). "I Never Left Home". Life. p. 41. 
  5. ^ Ames, Walter (9 July 1956). "Laine Talks Golf Rather Than Video; Romano Stays Busy". Los Angeles Times. p. C10. 
  6. ^ Lentz, Harris M. (May 9, 2006). Obituaries In The Performing Arts, 2005. McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-7864-2489-3. 

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