Dalli at the Ascari Racing track in Ronda, Spain, October 2007
28 November 1933
Dalli was born in Pescara, Abruzzo, in central Italy. After singing at local functions there as a boy, he moved to Yorkshire, England at the age of sixteen. He became a British resident by working in the coal mines and steel mills for four years. During this period, he performed at local Working Men's Clubs and appeared in several TV amateur shows, such as "Top Down", "Bid For Fame", "What Makes A Star" and Carol Levis. He could not take up professional singing until he had completed the necessary four years residency pre-requisite of working in the steelworks.
Dalli was immediately booked at the Cecil Cinema in Hull. Here he was spotted by Mr. Livingstone and Rob Goldstein (from 20th Century Fox) who told him that he must leave Yorkshire and go to London. My May 1957 he was studying under singing teacher Dino Borgiole, and in October 1957, he performed at the Embassy Club. It was here that he was discovered by the comedian, Max Bygraves, whose agent, Jock Jacobsen, also signed Dalli on.
By this time, Toni Dalli was appearing in numerous major TV shows. In February 1958, he did his first Ed Sullivan Show in New York, following by major performances at the Moulin Rouge, Hollywood and the Desert Inn in Las Vegas.
Upon Dalli's return to England, a contract was waiting for him with EMI Records and his first of five albums was recorded, including the hit "Come prima" ("More Than Ever"). Later he recorded with Capitol Records and Decca and appeared in theatres throughout the world. These included two one-man-shows at the Carnegie Hall and Hollywood Bowl.
When Mario Lanza died in 1959, Dalli was signed up to do the Mario Lanza story. The film was never released for legal reasons. Dalli sang in the U.S.A. where he had his own TV show on channel 13 KCOP in Los Angeles for 13 weeks. He also worked in Australia, South Africa and Hong Kong.
Dalli's sons also have four restaurants, namely "Dalli's Pasta Factory" in Marbella and Malaga.
Toni Dalli has since retired from the restaurant business but provides consultation to the hotel and restaurant companies, he is also the figure head of a company Toni Dalli and Associates that promotes investment opportunities in and around Marbella managed by his eldest son Marco.