'On the Street Where You Live' Crooner Vic Damone Dies at 89

One of the last remaining crooners of the golden era has passed away. According to the Associated Press singer Vic Damone died on Sunday (Feb. 11) at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida. Daughter Victoria Damone told the AP that her father died from complications of a respiratory illness. 

Famously described as having the "best pipes in the business" by Frank Sinatra, Damone's performing career lasted five decades and spawned dozens of hits thanks to his smooth, mellow baritone and a style that was indisputably inspired by his compatriot Sinatra. Best known for lush, romantic ballads, Damone's career was launched in 1947 when he won first place in Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts show, which led to regular radio gigs and a chance encounter with comedian Milton Berle, who helped the then-19 year-old performer land gigs at prominent nightclubs.

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." It was two years later that Damone scored his first big hit with 1949's "Again," which was followed by popular tunes including "You're Breaking My Heart," "Vagabond Shoes" and the top five hit "My Heart Cries for You." 

With his matinee idol good looks, Damone also had a notable run on the big screen, signing a contract with MGM in 1951 and appearing in The Strip and Rich, Young and Pretty before his career was put on hold for two years when he was drafted into the military. With a string of already recorded singles released during his tour of duty, Damone returned to appear in several more films in 1954 as his music career began to trail off. Pivoting to a TV gig, the singer hosted The Vic Damone Show from 1956-1957 and rerouted his music career to become more of an interpretive singer, releasing a string of albums with such adult contemporary fare as Irving Berlin's "Let's Face the Music and Dance" and Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer's "Dearly Beloved."

One of Damone's signature songs was "On the Street Where You Live," the Lerner and Loewe song from My Fair Lady, which the singer released in 1956, hitting No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart. In all, Damone recorded more than 2,000 songs over his five-decade career, which landed him an induction into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1997.

Born Vito Rocca Farinola in Brooklyn, New York, on June 12, 1928, Damone continued to be a big draw in Las Vegas after his radio hits dried up in the late 1960s.