Vic Damone dead: Legendary pop singer dies aged 89

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Legendary crooner Vic Damone died from complications of a respiratory illness on Sunday in Miami Beach, Fla., his daughter Victoria confirmed to the Associated Press.

Damone was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 12, 1928 to Italian immigrants from Bari, Italy.

Inspired by his favorite singer Frank Sinatra, Damone began his more than half-century career as victor of Arthur Godfrey's Talent Search in 1947, leading to his becoming a regular on the show. Perry Como was on the elevator one day with him when he chose to stop the lift between floors and sing for the star, asking his advice.

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That led to a recoding contract with Mercury Records, which released a series of successful singles, including his debut, "I Have But One Heart", as well as "You Do", "On the Street Where You Live" and the Patti Page duet "Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart". After getting out in 1953, he continued to pursue both singing and acting with roles in films such as Hit the Deck and Kismet (both 1955). And, as if all that weren't enough, he also hosted his very own variety show called The Vic Damone Show.

In the 70s, he toured Las Vegas casinos and turned down a role in The Godfather because of concerns over a lack of screen time, and - according to Francis Ford Coppola - a fear of upsetting Sinatra and the mob.

People magazine reported that he released more than 2,500 records in seven decades of music. In his memoir, "Singing Was the Easy Part", he said that a mob boss once almost pushed him out the window of a Manhattan hotel after he broke off an engagement with his daughter.

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In 1997, Vic received the Sammy Cahn Life Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and, in 2014, was presented with the first Legend Award from the Society For the Preservation of the Great American Songbook.

Damone was also a personal friend of US President Donald Trump, the family said.

Damone is survived by six grandchildren and two sisters, Elaine Seneca and Terry Sicuso.

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