Julius La Rosa was one of those singers whose appreciation for a song's lyrics and meaning harked back to the golden years of Frank Sinatra. The Brooklyn native got his start as a singer in 1951 under the ravenous wings of Arthur Godfrey. He was stationed at the Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, where Godfrey was undergoing training to get his pilot's wings. At the time, La Rosa was singing in the enlisted men's club. Godfrey heard him and invited him to come up after his discharge to appear on his radio and television shows in New York. After leaving Godfrey in 1953, La Rosa learned his job by working shows in clubs and on television. Drawing on his studies in theater, he worked summer stock, performing in Stalag 17 and Carousel. As a singer, he put together a show called An Evening with Julius La Rosa, which was not successful, so he hired a manager and started working shows in Las Vegas. That's when he got a call that suddenly changed his life. He was asked to do a radio show as a disc jockey for WNEW in New York in 1969, so for the next eight years, success was his for the taking. When new management arrived at the station, his contract was not renewed, so he went back to singing and summer stock again. La Rosa had his biggest hit with the Sicilian song "Eh, Cumpari," and he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a waiter in the TV soap opera Another World. Well into his seventies, La Rosa continued to sing a repertoire of songs by the likes of Sammy Cahn, Johnny Mercer, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lorenz Hart, and Cole Porter. He died in May 2016 at the age of 86.
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