Episode 180

Perry Como sold over 100 million albums, had dozens of songs reach the charts, and won 5 Emmys over a 19-year television career. Como was one of the most successful and beloved entertainers of the 20th century. But unlike contemporaries like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, or Dean Martin, he didn’t seek the limelight. Born to poor Catholic immigrant parents in bleak circumstances in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, Como first made his mark as a barber. He would sing while cutting hair, in part to bring joy into the bleakness, and in part because it brought in the customers. Eventually his fiancée, Roselle Belline, some friends, and his father, pushed him to try out a career as a singer. He was a hit almost overnight. But as he went from success to success, his gentleness, humility, and genuineness won him fans and admirers where it really mattered: among his colleagues, friends, family, and the countless people whom he helped in ways large and small along the way. In spite of his success, he always seemed to want to just go back to being the best barber between Canonsburg and Cleveland. That never happened. A man of deep faith and humility, Como died in 2001, three years after his beloved Roselle. They had been married for 65 years.

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