Jerry Vale is dead at the age of 83, though he may be gone he will not be forgotten. Vale was a true crooner, a dying breed in today’s society. His recording of the Star Spangled Banner in the 1960s was used for many years. He was born and bred in New York with strong Italian roots. He even performed in many mob movies such as The Good Fellas and Casino. He also performed on the show The Sopranos singing such hits as Malafemmena and Statte Vicino Amme.
Vale was born on July 8,1930 though many sources assumed it was in 1932. He cleared up any confusion in his book written by Richard Grudens, Jerry Vale: A Singer’s Life published in 2001. He was raised in the Bronx by his parents, Louis and Fanny Vitaliano. His mother often would sing while doing chores in their third floor flat they shared with his aunts, which was owned by his grandmother and Vale would join in singing. Vale was not without his difficulties. When he was five years old, his brother who was three years old at the time would be killed after running into the street. It eventually caused his mother to have a nervous breakdown.
He won a singing contest at a local nightspot, the Club Del Rio, which led to singing in what was once called supper clubs. Winning the contest was a result of the barber he worked for at the age of 11 who heard him sing and paid for his singing lessons. As time went on, it was obvious Jerry Vale was a name not to be forgotten, and though he may be gone, he left his stamp in time.
In the 1950s, Guy Mitchell finally saw one of his acts. He signed Vale to Columbia Records and the singer stuck by the record company for the remainder of his life. His first major hit was in 1953, with You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart. It was followed closely by Two Purple Shadows. He would have numerous hits over the years, and while in the industry, he became close friends with Frank Sinatra. Vale even participated in the annual Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament for several years.
Eventually, Jerry Vale moved to Palm Springs and performed in Las Vegas after he received an invitation from Sinatra. He was also a big Yankee’s fan, which is not surprising since he was from the Bronx. Additionally, the singer had his own show. Lasting only one year, Jerry Vale’s World is little known because it was shown to a limited audience.
The performer had a stroke in the early 2000s, and according to sources, he was no longer able to sing. He is survived by his wife Rita of 55 years and two children. Vale’s health had been declining for countless years and he died May 18, 2014 surrounded by family and close friends in his Palm Springs home. Jerry Vale may be gone, but he will never be forgotten thanks to years of singing his heart out. He will remain in his fan’s heart and will be remembered for his crooning voice.
Opinion by Heather Tillman