Vale in 1965.
|Birth name||Genaro Louis Vitaliano|
July 8, 1930|
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
|Died||May 18, 2014
Palm Desert, California, U.S.
Jerry Vale (born Genaro Louis Vitaliano; July 8, 1930 – May 18, 2014) was an Italian-American singer and actor. During the 1950s and 1960s, Vale reached the top of the pop charts with his interpretations of romantic ballads, many of which he sang in Italian.
The crooner showed his love of Italian music with his albums, I Have But One Heart (1962) and Arrivederci, Roma (1963), full of Italian standards such as "Amore, Scusami", "Ciao, Ciao, Bambina", "Arrivederci, Roma", and "O Sole Mio". His renditions of "Volare", "Innamorata (Sweetheart)", and "Al di là" became classic Italian-American songs.
Genaro Louis Vitaliano was born in the Bronx, N.Y., to Italian immigrant parents, and grew up in the Bronx Italian American community. In high school, to earn money, Vale took a job shining shoes in a barbershop, singing while he worked. His boss liked the sound so well that he paid for music lessons for the boy. Vale started singing in high school musicals and at a local nightclub. Still a teenager, he left school to work in a factory as an oiler alongside his father.
His early nightclub performances led to additional shows in the early 1950s, including one lasting for three years at a club in Yonkers, New York. When Paul Insetta, (road manager for singer Guy Mitchell and hit songwriter) heard him there, he signed him to a management contract and further coached him. Genaro changed his name to the Americanized Jerry Vale. Insetta arranged for Vale to record some demonstration records of songs he'd written, and he brought them to Columbia Records. Guy Mitchell introduced Vale to Mitch Miller, influential executive at Columbia Records. Vale signed a recording contract, with Insetta as his manager for many years to come.
Vale’s first recording with the label, with accompaniment by Percy Faith and his band, was "You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart", #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming Vale's first U.S. hit.
His version of "The Star-Spangled Banner", recorded in late 1963, was a fixture at many sporting events for years, and the gold record Vale received was displayed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Vale frequently sang the song at Yankee Stadium. Additionally, he owned the Daytona Beach Admirals.
He sang the Late Night with David Letterman anthem "It's A Late Night World" on the program's eighth anniversary special in 1990. He made cameo appearances as himself in the 1990 film Goodfellas and the 1995 film Casino, both directed by Martin Scorsese.
Vale reportedly suffered a stroke in 2002 and did not perform in his later years.
In 1959, Vale married Rita Grapel, an actress who appeared in the 1952 film The Thief and who was his wife of 54 years, residing in Palm Desert, California. His biography A Singer's Life, by Richard Grudens, was published in 2000 by Celebrity Profiles.
Jerry Vale died of natural causes in his sleep on May 18, 2014, at his home in Palm Desert, California. Vale was 83 years old. He was survived by his wife, two children (Robert Vale and Pamela Vale Branch) and three grandchildren. He is interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Cathedral City, California.
In popular culture
In the 2016 Disney animated film Zootopia, Nick Wilde finds a CD by "Jerry Vole". As an actor, Vale appeared as himself in the movies Goodfellas and Casino as well as the television series The Sopranos.
- Claire Noland (May 18, 2014). "Jerry Vale, singer who topped the charts in 1950s and '60s, dies at 83". Los Angeles Times.
- Barnes, Mike (May 18, 2014). "Crooner Jerry Vale Dies at 83". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "Jerry Vale Dead: Crooner Popular In The 1950s Dies At 83". "The Huffington Post". May 19, 2014.
- Emily Langer (May 19, 2014). "Jerry Vale, popular crooner of the 1950s and '60s, dies at 83". The Washington Post.
- Southall, Ashley (19 May 2014). "Jerry Vale, Crooned Smoothly of Love, Is Dead at 83". The New York Times.
- Langer, Emily. "Jerry Vale, popular crooner of the 1950s and '60s, dies at 83". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- Jerry Vale at Find a Grave
- "Jerry Vale, Singer of '50s and '60s Hits". People. People. September 23, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-08.
- Grudens, Richard; Buddy Hackett (forward) (2000). Jerry Vale, a Singer's Life. Celebrity Profiles Publishing. ISBN 978-1575791760. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Grudens, Richard. "Jerry Vale, A Singer's Life". Palm Springs Life: Whispering Palms. Desert Publications. (excerpt)