01 November 2009

Top 13 things I learned from Vic Damone's autobiography, "Singing Was The Easy Part" (SPOILER ALERT!)

13. Larry King can't write a good foreword to save his life.

12. When playing golf with Perry Como, bring quarters because
a) you will play a quarter a hole,
b) he won't play you without seeing your quarters, and
c) he'll lose no more than two holes.

11. Vic converted from Catholicism to Baha'i

10. The suggestion that he marry his present wife, Rhona, one of the co-founders of "Jones New York," was made by her live-in companion/business partner of 25 years --- although I'm unsure if that is a recommendation one should give added weight or consider tainted.

9. Legendary golfer Ben Hogan, who "categorically" never gave tips on golf tips to anybody, once muttered when passing Vic on the practice tee, "Turn, goddamnit. Turn."

8. Vic hung up on Frank Sinatra twice.

7. Sinatra's bodyguard, sent by his boss, stopped Vic from killing the lover of his first wife, Italian actress Pier Angeli, offering the sage advice, "Kill her...him you should send roses to" (and find how how he managed to do it).

6. He and Diahann Carroll obviously weren't married too long...everyone's favorite "Julia" only merits about three pages in the whole book (?!).

5. Both Burt Bacharach and John "Star Wars" Williams were Vic's accompanist over the years.

4. Mike Douglas owed his talk show career to Vic.

3. If, with a naked woman, you enter a sauna occupied by the Rat Pack, the naked Frank and Sammy will run out "like sacred rabbits" to cover themselves, and Dean will just sit there saying "Beautiful, just beautiful..."

2. On a date with Ava Gardner, you're going to drink and swear (and have a helluva time), even if you never drink and swear any other time.

1. NEVER leave your mob-daughter-princess-of-a-fiancee alone with your mother in the kitchen of your parents' house, lest
a) your mother start recommending dishes you might enjoy after you marry,
b) your fiancee take offense at the idea that she would have to cook at all,
c) your fiancee start calling your mother all sorts of names,
d) you break off the engagenment, and
e) you almost get thrown out of a NY hotel window by her mobster father.

Final thoughts:

I will no longer use my standard "There are no good Vic Damone stories" punchline when explaining why there are so many Sinatra/Mob stories, compared to everyone else, even though all those entertainers were singing in the same mob-run clubs as Frank.

The book is a fun, quick read that, while not especially well written, clearly portrays the character of the man and the tenor of his life and career.

I'm glad I read it.

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