(05/15/16) Julius La Rosa, a pop singer best-known for hits which included “Eh, Cumpari,”, and whose firing live on the air by Arthur Godfrey in 1953 overshadowed his successes that followed, has died. He was 86.
His death was confirmed Saturday by his daughter, Maria La Rosa Smith, of Ridgefield, Conneticuit, and Joe Charapata of the Rhodes-Charapata funeral parlor in Crivitz, Wis. Smith indicated her father died Thursday in his sleep of natural causes at his place Crivitz. Services are private, she said.
La Rosa, a native of Brooklyn, was in the Navy when Godfrey heard him sing and invited him to appear on his CBS program “Arthur Godfrey Time.” Godfrey urged La Rosa to return back after his discharge. La Rosa became a star of Godfrey’s show from 1951 to 1953, recording many hits including “Eh, Cumpari.”
But La Rosa’s growing popularity irritated Godfrey. On October 19, 1953, La Rosa was going to begin the TV portion of Godfrey’s show, but Godfrey left him waiting backstage until the last moments of the radio-only a part of the program. As he finished singing “Manhattan,” La Rosa and the audience were equally shocked to hear Godfrey say, “That was Julie’s performance with us.”
Godfrey said he discharged him as a result of La Rosa’s lack of “humility” and because he had employed an agent.
“I was twenty three years old then and full of myself,” La Rosa said during a 1991 interview with The New York Times. “Who is not at twenty three, particularly if you are a celebrity?”
The public firing truly boosted La Rosa’s career for a moment. He served as the summer replacement on Perry Como’s program in 1955. Once he met Como’s secretary, Rosemary Meyer, and married her. He went on to get his own show 1955. He additionally appeared on various other variety shows during ‘50s & ’60s, together with Ed Sullivan’s show. La Rosa additionally was nominated for a Daytime award in 1980 for best supporting actor for his role on “Another World.”
La Rosa lived for forty two years in Irvington, in New York’s Westchester County, his daughter said, and continued to tour, perform and act for many years. He additionally was a longtime dj on WNEW-AM in New York.
La Rosa and his wife moved to Crivitz, quaint city in northeastern Wisconsin, in November, said Smith, who added that her mother was originally from the state. She said the La Rosa family vacationed in Wisconsin each summer and spent each alternative Christmas together with her mother’s family.
“It’s a special way of life, however he was prepared for that,” she said. “He did not want the hustle and also the bustle at eighty six years old. He cherished Wisconsin.”