Monday, May 16, 2016

'Another World' Emmy Nominee Julius La Rosa Dead at 86

Julius La Rosa
Julius La Rosa, the celebrated 1950s singer who reinvented himself as a television, stage and nightclub performer after his young career was thrown into turmoil by a bizarre and humiliating on-the-air firing by Arthur Godfrey before a national audience, died on Thursday at his home in Crivitz, Wis. He was 86.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Rosemary.

La Rosa was born in Brooklyn on Jan. 2, 1930, to Salvatore and Lucy Prestianni La Rosa. His father was a radio and television repairman. La Rosa's singing talent emerged early, and he performed in an all-city chorus while attending Grover Cleveland High School in Queens.

La Rosa was in the Navy when Arthur Godfrey invited him onto his CBS TV show. La Rosa later became a star of Godfrey’s show from 1951 to 1953, recording several hits. The public firing boosted La Rosa's TV career for a while.

Ed Sullivan signed him, at triple his old salary, for a dozen appearances on his national television variety show, Toast of the Town. Soon, La Rosa recorded “Eh, Cumpari,” the biggest hit of his career, and “Domani.” He went on a national tour, appearing with Perry Como, Patti Page, Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan. By 1955, The Julius La Rosa Show was on summer television three times a week.

In 1958 he married Rosemary Meyer, who was Mr. Como’s secretary. Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Maria Smith; a son, Chris; a sister, Sadie; and one grandson.

Over the ensuing decades, La Rosa was seen in mostly regional musicals and stage productions, including “Kiss Me Kate,” “Carousel,” “South Pacific,” “Stalag 17” and “The Realist.”

In 1980 he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for his work in the recurring role of Reynaldo on Another World. The character romanced Vivien Gorrow (Gretchen Oehler), and battled Rudy Enright (Joel Simon) for her affections.

La Rosa later worked as a disc jockey for WNEW in New York and later for WNSW in Newark, and for many years was a headliner on nightclub and cabaret circuits in New York, Las Vegas and other cities.

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