His Big Break
In 1933 Como joined Freddy Carlone's band in Ohio, and three years later moved up to
Ted Weems' Orchestra and his first recording dates. Their first recording was a novelty
tune called "You Can't Pull the Wool Over My Eyes", recorded for the Decca Records
seasonal specials were broadcast throughout the world and his popularity seemingly had
no geographical or language boundaries. He was equally at ease in live performance and
in the confines of a recording studio. His appeal spanned generations and he was widely
respected for both his professional standards and the conduct in his personal life. In the
official RCA Records Billboard Magazine memorial, his life was summed up in these few
words: "50 years of music and a life well lived. An example to all."
Well known American composer Ervin Drake said of him, " . . . occasionally someone
like Perry comes along and won't 'go with the flow' and still prevails in spite of all the
bankrupt others who surround him and importune him to yield to their values. Only
Perry Como received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989, and was inducted into the
Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
|If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
|If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the Forensic Genealogy book.
Pierino Ronald "Perry" Como (May 18, 1912 – May 12,
2001) was an American singer. During a career
spanning more than half a century he recorded
exclusively for the RCA Victor label after signing with it
in 1943. "Mr. C", as he was nicknamed, sold millions of
records for RCA and also pioneered a weekly musical
variety television show, which set the standards for the
genre and proved to be one of the most successful in
television history. His combined success on television
and popular recordings was not matched by any other
artist of the time.
A popular television performer and recording artist,
Perry Como produced numerous hit records with record
sales so high the label literally stopped counting at
Como's behest. His weekly television shows and
|Answer to Quiz #135 - November 18, 2007
|That is Margot Fonteyn and Perry Como. I
have no idea how to get at the date that the
photo was taken, although I'd guess around
Christmas 1957, with Perry promoting his
upcoming BBC shows.
Perry Como is way before my time, and at
first I thought he was Paul Newman! The
not-blue eyes kind of dissuaded me from that.
Woof, this one was a little hard! I would say
that the thing that makes it hard is that there is
no "hook" for the solver to grasp onto. You
can search and find a ton of information about
the Covent Garden and the Royal Ballet, but
who is that woman? She could be any
ballerina in the Royal Ballet or even a one-time
guest. I guessed that she would be someone
important with the Royal Ballet, and stumbled
on what seemed to be the right answer. I
compared some pictures of Dame Fonteyn to
the quiz and it looked right. Then I stumbled
around "same birthday" sites until I figured out
that they weren't necessarily born the same
year. That eventually led to Perry Como. I
searched on both names at once and that
photo came right up.
Having said all that, I think it was a good
amount of difficulty.
Como was the first artist to have ten records sell more than one million copies.
Similarly, his television show achieved a much higher rating than that of any other
vocalist to date. Read more...
|How Greg Solved the Puzzle
|Although Perry Como had been seen on American television from 1949/1950 in the
Chesterfield sponsored half-hour television shows, and then in the CBS-TV thrice
weekly shows from 1950 when he switched from radio to full-time television, it wasn’t
until May of 1955 that Perry signed an, up 'till then , unprecedented 12 year contract
This deal called for a one hour show to be seen on Saturday nights from 8.00pm to 9.00
pm which would be called "The Perry Como Show". The very first of these shows
premiered on the 17th September 1955, had six sponsors, Kleenex, Dormeyer, Gold
Seal, Noxzema, Armour and Toni, it went on to prove a phenomenal success both for
Perry and NBC-TV and to also confirm Perry’s talents as an all-round showman. He
was consistently voted the most popular male vocalist in polls throughout the United
States and with his new television show was then voted the most popular TV
That was in the United States, but we in England had to wait a while longer. Finally It
was announced in October 1957 that the "Perry Como Show" was to be seen on British
television, and as a consequence it was shown on the BBC every week on Wednesday
Night commencing on the 1st January 1958, this became known in Harry Smith's
household as "Wednesday Night is Como Night", and woe-be-tide anyone attempting to
gain entry to the home that evening, even I had to remind my friends who called for me
to go out for the evening that "nothing", repeat "nothing", would make me go out until
after the show. Read more...
|RALPH RICHARDSON. Document
signed: "Ralph Richardson", 8½x11. New
York, N.Y., 1960 March 4. Agreement
with Roncom Productions, Inc. for
Richardson's appearance as a guest star
on Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall, to be
taped April 15 -April 23 for broadcast on
April 27, 1960. He is to be paid $7,500,
less a 10% commission to the Leslie
Grade Organization. Sir Ralph Richardson
(1902-1983) was a versatile English actor
who performed in Shakespeare plays
from the early 1920s and entered films in
the mid-1930s. Among his critically
acclaimed roles were The Heiress (1949),
Breaking the Sound Barrier (1952), Long
Day's Journey Into Night (1962) and
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (1984).
Lightly creased. Two ¾" tears in upper
left, one resulting in paper loss.
|I hope many quizmasters find Quiz #135
interesting. Because Perry Como once was a
barber, those who like barbershop quartet
harmonizing, may enjoy a YouTube web site
that features Perry with the Buffalo Bills
Barbershop Quartet in a 1958 video clip.
The song, "If You Were the Only Girl (in the
World)" was called by Sir Edward Elgar as the
most perfect tune ever written. A 1916 vintage
audio is remarkable.
|Interesting Comment from Stan Read
|Congratulations to Our Winners!
Pamela Hoffman Mary South
Fred Stuart Mark Brzys
Gary Sterne (whose birthday is May 18, too!)
Sarah Jane Herbener
Dawn Colket Judy Pfaff
Betty Chambers Erin Glynn
Laurel Chauvin Mary Osmar
Sharon Martin Tom Tollefsen
Edee Scott Diane Burkett
Kelly Fetherlin Greg Webster
Mary Fraser Stan Read
Sheri Fenley John & Susie Roberts
Dave Doucette Charles Dickinson
Sharon Martin Margaret English
Caryn Jefferey Edee Scott
Frédérique Delaprée Brian Kemp
Ruth Govorchin & Linda LaValley
JoAnne Craig Karen Petrus
Mark (Nerk) Brzys Grace Hertz
Honorable Mention: Mike Dalton
For incredible persistance
|Comments from Our Readers
|These two performers had long, successful careers, and were widely known
and respected in different areas of the performing arts.
They were at the top of their professions
when this photo was taken.
Who are they?
Bonus question: Approximately what date was the photo taken?
Click here if you need a hint.
|Many thanks to Stan Read for suggesting this quiz.
|A really dedicated forensicgenealogician shoud be able to determine the precise time of
day of the photo (as a function of the day of the year and how far Perry is standing
away from the building) from the length of Perry's shadow on the poster, his height,
and the direction faced by the building's facade. Mike Swierczewski
N.B. LOL. A really dedicated forensic geneaogist would realize that these two were
only together on one occasion and would dispense with all that the shadow nonsense. :-)
I had a whole drawer full of those white gloves at that time - wouldn't have been
properly dressed without them! Pamela Hoffman
He was one of the gentlemen that the Europeans loved along Red Skelton. I saw a
couple of those other photos on a site. I searched Margot's autobiography on Google
trying to get an exact date and she didn't even mention Perry in the book, so she must
have thought it just part of the job. Fred Stuart
LOL – the joke's on me. You don’t know that I spent a couple of hours cruising to
find out why the Dame and Perry never got together again after such great pictures.
The Dame got involved in some strange things with her husband, even jailed at least
twice. Perhaps she didn’t have time for Perry or she was just too controversial for the
clean cut Perry. Judy Pfaff
One of the resources I used was http://kokomo.ca/harry_smith/chapters/como_shows.
htm which listed every show, and guest, that Perry Como ever had. I was also able to
find another picture of this pair, same exact clothes, but different setting.
***** Mary Osmar
Thanks for the info on the images icon. I found lots of pics of Perry and Margot (I feel
I know them well enough to just use first names). I believe the picture was taken on
1971, sometime around May. He was doing a British TV special. This is getting more
and more fun the more pictures I try to research. Thanks again for the info.
***** Dawn Colket
If you did the reading, and I’m sure you did, Perry Como was a barber from
Canonsburg , PA. So, where is that? It’s just outside Pittsburgh , to the southwest,
on the way to Washington , PA. Now, if your memory is in good order, you may
remember that Pittsburgh is my home town, and I do research on my husband’s group
from Washington , PA. My husband’s grandfather used to say that Perry Como was
his barber, and it may not be out of the realm of possibility. Grandpa Tom was born in
1896, and it wasn’t far for him to travel from Washington to Canonsburg, so Como
could have been his barber in the years before he went into singing. But, I think a lot of
people from that area said that Perry Como was their barber, whether it was true, or
not. It’s possible! Kelly Fetherlin
It was easy to identify Margot Fonteyn but a challenge identifying her partner. My
guess is her (then) new husband, Panamanian politician and playboy Roberto di Arias. I
would guess the picture was taken soon after their marriage in 1955. Is politics
considered a performing art?
I found his picture on the website VivaPanama and they look similar. However, I
could not find his birthdate to confirm the hint. Theirs is a fascinating story, the kind
you like to highlight, and that makes me think Arias is worth a guess as the answer.
***** Dave Town
Well, no, we didn't look at the hint, until after we sent in our response. I use the phrase
"our response" loosely because Susie came up with Perry Como. She also came up
with Margot Fonteyn once we realized Maria Callas was wrong. I googled Margot
Fontaine and came up with a different birthdate. My reaction at this point was to
question her choice of Perry Como. So I'm eating crow now. Once you confirmed
Perry, I googled "Born on this day" with Perry's birthdate and found the proper spelling
of Margot's name. This one is all Susie's in spite of my "help."
***** John & Susie Roberts
Well, mom and I finally got the answer, but this was AFTER we stopped regarding
November 18 as a birthday for the performer(s)!! We actually would have gotten the
correct answer yesterday, without using the first hint. We feel that this hint was
extremely misleading. Have other quizmasters gotten stuck also??
***** Ruth Govorchin & Linda LaValley
Mother & Daughter Quizmaster Team
Well I recognized him right away and the lady looked like a ballerina...so it didn't take
too much hunting to identify her. I hadn't thought about Perry Como in years. We
always watched his show when I was growing up. As a matter of fact, I think I'm
going to go buy one of his Christmas CDs. That should put me in the holiday spirit!
***** Mary South
Vocalist Perry Como and Prima Ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn
Late April/Early May 1960
Como was in London to tape a Kraft Music Hall special.
Guest stars were Sir Ralph Richardson and Dame Margot Fonteyn.
Trivia: They were both born on May 18.
Wed., April 27
Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall (NBC, 9-10 p.m.).* This one was taped in London.
Guest stars include: Sir Ralph Richardson, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Michael Somes.
Armstrong Circle Theater (CBS, 10-11 p.m.). A freelance writer turns stool pigeon and
the D.A. moves in on the "Carlton Literary Service." Fresh from the headlines,
Dishonor System deals with ghostwriting on a Midwest campus.
Invitation to Paris (ABC, 10-11 p.m.). The City of Light in the spring, shown off in a
tour that spotlights some of France's finest entertainers: Maurice Chevalier, Jean
Sablon, Jacqueline Francois, Patachou, Line Renaud, Fernandel.
Thurs., April 28
Accent on Comedy (CBS, 10-11 p.m.). That rare TV hour — a live comedy show.
Working for the laughs: Herb Shriner, Dorothy Loudon, Smith & Dale.
Fri., April 29
Bell Telephone Hour (NBC, 8:30-9:30 p.m.). Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado with
some startling un-type casting: Groucho Marx as Ko-Ko, Helen Traubel as Katisha,
Stirling Holloway as Poo-Bah and Dennis King as the Mikado. Color.
Eyewitness to History (CBS, 10:30-11 p.m.). Highlights of President Charles de Gaulle's
first visit to the U.S. since he became French head of state.
Sun., May 1
The Chevy Show (NBC, 9-10 p.m.). The King and Queen of cow country, Roy Rogers
and Dale Evans, work out in a waterlogged rodeo. The Aquarodeo at Marineland, Calif.
includes shark busting and shark roping, a bat ray roundup and bareback whale riding.
Mon., May 2
Hallmark Hall of Fame (NBC, 9:30-11 p.m.). G. B. Shaw's report on the attempted
taming of a typically Shavian rogue. Captain Brassbound's Conversion stars Christopher
Plummer and Greer Garson.
|Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard
and full of beauties which I try to catch as
they fly by, for who knows whether any of
them will ever return?
Great artists are people who find the way to
be themselves in their art. Any sort of
pretension induces mediocrity in art and life
Genius is another word for magic, and the
whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable.
Minor things can become moments of great
revelation when encountered for the first
The one important thing I have learned over
the years is the difference between taking
one's work seriously and taking one's self
seriously. The first is imperative and the
second is disastrous.
Dame Margot Fonteyn
May 18, 1919-21 Feb 1991
Como, an Italian American, was born in Canonsburg,
Pennsylvania, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, the middle child of
13 children. Although he always liked to sing, his first great
ambition was to be the best barber in Canonsburg. After
graduation from high school, he opened his own barber-shop. In
1933, he married his teenage sweetheart, Roselle Belline, whom
he had met at a picnic in 1929 when he was just 16. They raised
three children. In 1993, he was successfully treated for bladder
cancer. Perry and Roselle remained married until her death in
August 1998 at age 84. Como was reportedly devastated by her
In 1942 Weems dissolved his band, and Como went on
to CBS, where he sang for a couple of years without
any conspicuous success. By this time the erstwhile
barber had decided to return to Canonsburg, his family,
and his barbering. Just as he was about to abandon his
singing career once and for all, two NBC producers
stepped in, returning him to show business for the NBC
radio program Chesterfield Supper Club. Later he
became a very successful performer in theater and
In 1945, Como recorded the pop ballad "Till the End of
Time" (based on Chopin's "Heroic Polonaise"), which
marked the beginning of a highly successful career.
Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias, DBE, (18 May 1919,
Reigate, Surrey, England - 21 February 1991, Panama
City, Panama), the English assoluta, was considered the
greatest ballerina of her time.
Fonteyn was born Margaret ("Peggy") Hookham to an
English father and an Irish mother, with Brazilian
ancestry, who was the daughter of Brazilian
businessman Antonio Fontes. Early in her career,
Margaret transformed Fontes into Fonteyn (a surname
her brother adopted as well) and Margaret into Margot;
thus her stage name.
She joined the Royal Ballet (then called the Sadler's
Wells Theatre) while still a teenager, after having been
trained by some of the greatest teachers of the day -
Olga Preobrajenskaya and Mathilde Kschessinskaya,
both of whom trained under Marius Petipa himself. By 1939, she was the company's
star and the inspiration for many of Sir Frederick Ashton's ballets, such as Ondine,
Daphnis and Chloe, and Sylvia. She was especially renowned for her portrayal of
Aurora in Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. Televised versions of Sleeping Beauty and
Ashton's version of Cinderella are now available on DVD. Fonteyn also worked with the
choreographer Roland Petit and
later in life, Martha Graham. In
1949, the Royal Ballet toured the
United States and Fonteyn became
an instant celebrity.
During the 1940s, Fonteyn had a
long relationship with composer
Constant Lambert which did not
lead to marriage. In 1955, Fonteyn
married Dr. Roberto de Arias, a
Panamanian diplomat to London
and playboy. Their marriage was
initially a rocky one due to his
infidelities. She was arrested when
he attempted a coup against the
Panamanian government. In 1965, a
rival Panamanian politician shot
Arias, leaving him a quadriplegic for
the rest of his life.
The cost of his medical care is a
reason why Fonteyn's career lasted
until 1979, her sixtieth year, despite
her suffering from an arthritic foot.
Upon her retirement, the Royal
Ballet honoured her with the title
prima ballerina assoluta. She ended
her days in Panama, remaining loyal to Arias in part because she was very devoted to
his children from an earlier marriage. Because Arias's medical bills drained her finances,
the Royal Ballet held a special "gala" in 1990 for her benefit. Shortly after his death, she
was diagnosed with a cancer that proved fatal.
A dramatic image of her performing Swan Lake at the Bath
Festival, Bath, United Kingdom, was captured by British
photographer Des Gershon, taken secretly from the high
gallery of the Theatre Royal, Bath, as she danced with the
corps de ballet on the day she heard that there had been an
assassination attempt on the life of her husband. The stress,
worry and pain is clearly shown in her face with the
remarkable single frame of a moment in time. View the
Read about Margot Fonteyn' relationship with dance
partner Rudolph Nuryev and her legacy for the future.
|The Margot Fonteyn