Don Cornell

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Cornell in 1963.

Don Cornell (April 21, 1919 – February 23, 2004)[1] was an American singer prominent mainly in the 1940s and 1950s noted for his smooth but robust baritone voice.

Early years[edit]

Born Luigi Varlaro in The Bronx, New York, Cornell attended Roosevelt High School in the Bronx.[2]


Cornell got his start with trumpeter Red Nichols and bandleader Sammy Kaye before going solo. He sold over 50 million records.[citation needed] Among his hits were "It Isn't Fair," "I'm Yours," "I'll Walk Alone," and "Hold My Hand." Don's 1952 hit "I" was the only single-character pop chart entry until Prince's #7 Hot 100 hit "7" from 1992 and the only single-letter hit until Xzibit's #76 Hot 100 hit "X" from 2000. His version of "Hold My Hand" sold over one million copies, and topped the UK Singles Chart in 1954.[1] He was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity.

He was among the top headliners, appearing on the nightclub circuit during the 1950s, when there were numerous such venues across the nation. When headlining at the Beverly Hills Supper Club, Southgate, Kentucky (which was later destroyed in the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire) – in metropolitan Cincinnati – he appeared many times on the popular Ruth Lyons noon television program. He also hosted the show during some of Ms. Lyons' periodic absences. In 1953, he was featured on the TV program Chance of a Lifetime.[3]

Cornell had a radio program on KGO in San Francisco, California, in 1953.[4]

Other business activities[edit]

In 1959, Cornell, comedienne Martha Raye, and other investors formed The Big Daddy Mining Company. The company planned to mine "a rich gold vein on a hillside near Coarsegold, California, ... [containing] an unusually high percentage of gold."[5]


Cornell was selected for inclusion in the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1963. In 1993, he was inducted into the Big Band Hall of Fame.[6]


In 1979, Cornell moved to Florida. He died in Aventura, Florida, from emphysema and diabetes at the age of 84.[7] He was survived by his wife, Iris.[6]

Hit records[edit]

Year Single Chart positions
1942 "I Left My Heart At the Stagedoor Canteen"(with Sammy Kaye) 3
"I Came Here To Talk For Joe"(with Sammy Kaye) 8
1947 "That's My Desire"(with Sammy Kaye) 2
"The Red Silk Stockings and Green Perfume"(with Sammy Kaye) 8
"The Little Old Mill"(with Sammy Kaye) 24
"Serenade of the Bells"(with Sammy Kaye) 3
"Hand In Hand"(with Sammy Kaye & Laura Leslie) 21
"I'll Hate Myself In the Morning"(with Sammy Kaye & Laura Leslie) 20
1948 "I Love You, Yes I Do"(with Sammy Kaye) 10
"Tell Me a Story"(with Sammy Kaye) 8
"Down Among the Sheltering Palms"(with Sammy Kaye) 14
1949 "Careless Hands"(with Sammy Kaye) 3
"Kiss Me Sweet"(with Sammy Kaye & Laura Leslie) 29
"Room Full of Roses"(with Sammy Kaye) 2
"Baby, It's Cold Outside"(with Sammy Kaye & Laura Leslie) 12
"It Isn't Fair"(with Sammy Kaye) 2
1950 "I Need You So" 28
1952 "I'll Walk Alone" 5
"I'm Yours" 3
"This Is the Beginning of the End" 20
"You'll Never Get Away"(with Teresa Brewer) 17 17
"I" 7 10
"Be Fair" 20
1953 "S'posin'" 28
"She Loves Me" 23 33
"Please Play Our Song" 18
"Heart of My Heart"(with Alan Dale & Johnny Desmond) 10 5
"You're On Trial" 24
1954 "Size 12" 23
"Hold Me" 26
"Believe In Me" 22
"Hold My Hand" 2 6 1
"No Man Is an Island" 21
1955 "Give Me Your Love" 28
"Most of All" 14 16
"The Door Is Still Open To My Heart" flip 22
"Stranger In Paradise" 19
"The Bible Tells Me So" 7 7
"Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" 26
"Young Abe Lincoln" 25 45
1956 "Teenage Meeting" 80
"Rock Island Line" 59
"See Saw" 57
1957 "My Faith, My Hope, My Love" 57
"Mama Guitar" 47 57
1958 "Play Some Music For Broken Hearts" 95


  1. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 121. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ "Pops Singer Don Cornell Credits TV for Quick Fame". The Berkshire Eagle. July 22, 1958. p. 14. Retrieved April 29, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  3. ^ Blackmer, Dave (February 2, 1953). "Tele-Views". Daily Capital Journal. p. 13. Retrieved April 29, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  4. ^ "Radio Tips". The Times. April 4, 1953. p. 9. Retrieved April 29, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  5. ^ "To Develop Own Gold Mine Strike". The Southeast Missourian. November 3, 1959. p. 2. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Big Band Singer on Club Circuit". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 24, 2004. p. B-4. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Don Cornell". The Gettysburg Times. February 24, 2004. p. 2. Retrieved April 29, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read

External links[edit]