Julius La Rosa is a
He grew up listening to Frank Sinatra on
"the old, wax, red label
"I had them all. Sinatra was able to turn a 32-bar song into a three-act play...I like all kinds of music. I grew up with Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller. That was music. It has a certain gentleness, you had a rhythmic response to it. Rock and roll seemed very unmusical. But there's always been room for the traditional singer."
For Julius La Rosa, his career is singing,
even though he's proven to be a successful disc jockey and actor. He no longer
"Being born and
"I didn't know that was just 'show business.' He said I had a job, so when I got out of the Navy I went up to see him. I was discharged on a Friday and on Monday I went up. And a week later I was on the show. That's exactly how the whole thing started."
"I wasn't ever shy. I was just scared to death. I had never been a professional singer, except when I was in the Navy. That was my first professional singing. Six months later I'm on the radio, I'm on television. Don't know what the hell I'm doing. Just scared to death. But that fear just manifested itself as shyness."
The third release was a golden charm. In 1953, he recorded "Eh, Cumpari." This novelty song was a run-away hit, reaching number two. Julius La Rosa won an award for best new male vocalist for 1953. He had done well for Cadence Records. In fact, he was their only singer that first year. The label of the 45 rpm label had a drawing of his likeness across the top .
And then one night in fall 1953, after Julius
LaRosa finished singing, "
"Thank God for the press's awareness and the public's awareness! They knew that the big guy should never hurt the little guy. And Arthur Godfrey was the big guy, trying to hurt this kid, and that's why they turned on him. And the public turned on him really bad.
"The man literally is the father of my career and I'll always be grateful to him. But it turned out he wasn't a very nice man."
He learned Godfrey could not overlook the fact that La Rosa had hired a manager after his first hit records. No one of Godfrey's "friends" could have an outside manager. In addition, La Rosa (like the other men on the show) had refused to go to dance classes ordered by Godfrey. Perhaps coincidentally, Godfrey repudedly had a soft spot for Dorothy McGuire, who was involved with La Rosa. However, the stated reason for the firing was, said Godfrey, "a lack of humility." For years, LaRosa wondered what that meant, and today he believes:
"Fundamentally, humility is not a quality that exists in people. It is something only between a person and his God. What people consider 'humble' is actually good manners. Good manners is the bottom line."
Arthur Godfrey, a man whose public image was a down-to-earth, plain-speaking Mr. Nice Guy, was actually tyrannical and judgmental. "And he was a guy who couldn't afford to be judged!"
Unfortunately for Godfrey, this happened just before "Eh Cumpari" went on to be a top pop single in 1953, followed by "Domani," another hit song for La Rosa and Cadence Records. Arthur Godfrey's shows, and his career, went into a decline and never recovered.
"I went out and learned my job. And it took 15 years to really get comfortable doing it...I learned my job in public -- how to walk onstage, how to control an audience, what materials to use, what taste was."
La Rosa has a full and ready laugh and a generous nature. He's a performer who gets along easily with people in and out of the business, even when circumstances become difficult. He's learned from the past.
"No matter what the circumstances, if you work for a man, you're working in his place, he's your 'boss.' You do what your boss asks you to do. If it's totally against what you want to do, you don't work for the man. It's that simple. It's a business...
"I've been using this same act for ten years, with some changes, and it's still fresh. It still works... Nobody knows better than I, what song is good for me...
"Big or small, I like the audience right in front of me. Even when I work in nightclubs, I keep the lights on, because I want to see your face too. That's the way I work at my best. All I have to do is make one eye contact and I'm in contact with everybody else. I don't assume another character, I'm always me, Julius La Rosa. Here it is."
Here he is --
*photo from New Library Collection of
University of Maryland
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