Vic Damone dead: Smooth-singing crooner dies at 89

Vic Damone poses for a portrait in his Palm Beach home in 2009. Palm Beach Post file

This studio portrait from the mid-late 1940s, obtained February 12, 2018 courtesy of the Library of Congress, shows USA singer Vic Damone.

The singer was lauded by Frank Sinatra for having "the best pipes in the business".

Ed Henry, a Fox News correspondent and family friend, said that relatives asked him to share that Damone died Sunday night in Florida.

This set the stage for later Top 10 hits "My Heart Cries for You" and "Tzena Tzena Tzena, ' as well as Broadway musical numbers like 'On the Street Where You Live" from Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady.

No less than Sinatra, whom Damone deeply respected, was in awe of his voice.

Later in his career Damone performed primarily in nightclubs and became a mainstay on the Las Vegas Strip.

Damone made headlines when he backed out of one high-profile project - "The Godfather".

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Like Sinatra, Damone - born Vito Farinola in Brooklyn in 1928 - started a music career before getting into acting, after trying for first place on the radio contest Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts at the age of 17.

Publicly, Damone attributed his decision to financial disputes and his pride as an Italian-American. The role ultimately went to Al Martino.

But Damone had his own experience with the mafia.

In his retirement years, Damone wrote his autobiography, Singing Was the Easy Part (2009), kept in touch with his fans through his Facebook page and spent time with family.

Over the years, Damone was married five times, including actress Diahann Caroll from 1987 to 1996.

At 14 he landed his first big break while working at the Paramonut Theatre in New York City, singing for Como in an elevator.

Months later, Sinatra ended up introducing Damone at a charity fundraiser in Madison Square Garden, telling the crowd: "This kid's a really great singer".

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