Tino Rossi

Tino Rossi (April 29, 1907 — September 26, 1983) was a singer and film actor.

Born Constantino Rossi in Ajaccio, Corsica, France, he became a tenor of French cabaret and one of the great romantic idols of his time. Gifted with an operatic voice, a "Latin Lover" persona made him a movie star as well. Over his career, Rossi made hundreds of records and appeared in more than 25 films, the most notable of which was the 1953 production, Si Versailles m'était conté directed by Sacha Guitry. His romantic ballads had women swooning and his art-songs by Jules Massenet (1842-1912), Reynaldo Hahn (1875-1947), and other composers helped draw sold out audiences wherever he performed.

As a young man, he played guitar and sang at a variety of small venues in his hometown of Ajaccio before going on to perform in Marseilles and at resort clubs along the French Riviera. In the early 1930s he went to Paris and within a few years achieved enormous success, joining a Columbia Records roster that included the biggest stars of the day such as Lucienne Boyer, Damia, Pills et Tabet, Mireille, and Jean Sablon.

Rossi's success was greatly aided by songwriter Vincent Scotto (1876-1952), who wrote his first hits and collaborated with him for many years, composing and arranging many Rossi songs. Prior to World War II. Rossi was a major box office attraction in the French speaking world but expanded his audience to America with a 1938 visit followed up by wartime tours across the USA and Canada. In 1946, his song "Petit Papa Noël" sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. A Christmas classic for the family, the song still sells by the thousands each Yuletide season. The recipient of many musical awards, including the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque, Tino Rossi is the most popular personality to ever come from Corsica other than Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1947 he married Lilia Vetti, a young dancer he met while making a film. They would have a son together in a marriage that lasted for a lifetime. A star of film and the operetta scene, Tino Rossi's career also evolved into the television era, appearing in a number of popular variety shows. Age, and the advent of rock and roll in the 1960s saw him take backstage with the new generation of music lovers but he remained enormously popular with a following built up over fifty years of performing.

In 1982, for his contribution to France and its culture, President François Mitterrand named Tino Rossi a Commander of the Legion of Honor. That same year Rossi gave his last public performance at the Casino de Paris, a show that popular demand turned into a three month stint.

Tino Rossi died of pancreatic cancer in 1983 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France. His body returned to his native Ajaccio for burial in the family plot at the local cemetery. His hometown named a street and the sailing harbor in his honor and at Nogent-sur-Marne, on the River Marne in Paris, there is a square named Tino Rossi Square.

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