Tino Rossi

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Tino Rossi
Tino Rossi.jpg
Background information
Birth name Constantin Rossi
Born (1907-04-29)29 April 1907
Origin Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Died 26 September 1983 (age 76)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Genres Cabaret, French pop
Occupation(s) Singer, actor
Years active 1929–1982
Labels Columbia

Tino Rossi (29 April 1907 – 26 September 1983) was a French singer and film actor.

Constantin Rossi was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, France, was gifted with a voice well suited for opera. He became a tenor in the French cabaret-style and, perhaps as a direct result, one of the great romantic idols of his time. Later Tino Rossi played the "Latin Lover" in various movies and he became a movie star as well. During his career Rossi recorded hundreds of songs and he appeared in more than 25 films, the most notable of which was the 1953 production, Si Versailles m'était conté directed by Sacha Guitry. His romantic ballads had especially women swooning and his art-songs by Jules Massenet (1842–1912), Reynaldo Hahn (1875–1947), and other composers, sold out theaters wherever he performed.[1] Tino Rossi is the only French singer to have sold more than 700 million records. His disc "Petit Papa Noël" alone sold 80 million copies worldwide.[2]


As a young Frenchman, Toni Rossi played guitar and sang in many places of his hometown of Ajaccio, but later he went to perform in Marseilles and at resort clubs along the French Riviera. In the early 1930s he went to Paris and within a few years achieved enormous success, joining a Columbia Records roster that included the biggest stars of the day such as Lucienne Boyer, Damia, Pills et Tabet, Mireille, and Jean Sablon.

Rossi's success was greatly aided by songwriter Vincent Scotto (1876–1952), who wrote his first hits and collaborated with him for many years, composing and arranging many of the songs of Tino Rossi. Prior to World War II Rossi was a major box office attraction in the French speaking world, and expanded his audience 1938 to North America and Canada during a first visit there.

Tino Rossi began his film career with a role in Les Nuits Moscovites (1934); his first real success came with Marinella (1936). All of his success films were musicals and capitalised on his role as a singer.

During the Occupation of France by Nazi Germany Rossi's film career reached its peak, notably with Mon amour est près de toi (1943) and L'Île d'amour (1944). After the Liberation, the French authorities reproached him for associating with the French Gestapo (Etienne Leandri, a French Gestapo agent, was a close friend of his), but most importantly blamed him for actively supporting collaborationist causes such as the LVF (Légion des Volontaires Français), which organization recruited French volunteers for the German Wehrmacht. Tino Rossi and Etienne Leandri had often been seen dining together at The Claridge Hotel in Paris, where the butler had heard Tino say he favoured an annexation of Corsica by Italy and that he very much liked fascism. Rossi was arrested in October 1944 and spent three weeks in the prison of Fresnes (near Paris). Following a trial in 1945, his sentence was relatively light. Unlike his fellow entertainers Arletty, Mireille Balin, Josseline Gaël and Robert Le Vigan, Rossi received only a symbolic work suspension. He subsequently appeared only sporadically in films, concentrating on his career as a singer.

In 1946 his song "Petit Papa Noël" sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. A Christmas classic for the family, the song still sells by the thousands each December. The recipient of many musical awards, including the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque, Tino Rossi is the most popular personality to ever come from Corsica other than Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1947 Tino Rossi married Lilia Vetti, a young dancer he had met while making a film. They had one son and remained married to each other until Tino's death. A star of film and the operetta scene, Tino Rossi's career evolved into the television era, appearing in a number of popular variety shows. Rossi largely retired from performing by the 1960s after his 50th birthday and the new genre rock-and-roll made his style of music obsolete, but Rossi remained enormously popular.

In 1982 President François Mitterrand named Tino Rossi a Commander of the Legion of Honor for his contributions to French culture. That same year Rossi gave his last public performance at the Casino de Paris, a show that popular demand turned into a three-month stint.

According to the latest statistics, Tino Rossi must have sold more than 300 million records during his career (it might even be as many as 700 million), making him by far the French citizen to have sold the most records ever.[citation needed]

Tino Rossi died of pancreatic cancer in 1983 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. His body was transported to Ajaccio for burial in the family grave. Ajaccio named a street and the sailing harbor in his honor and in Nogent-sur-Marne, there is a square named Tino Rossi Square. Tino Rossi's unique status on Corsica is reflected in several (somewhat hidden) references to him in the comic book "Asterix in Corsica" by Uderzo and Coscinny.

Selected filmography[edit]


External links[edit]