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Introduction to Alan Dale, the “Prince of Baritones”

Introduction to Alan Dale the Prince of Baritones

Alan Dale was an American balladeer of the traditional pop vein. Dale is considered by many oldies music fans as “The Prince of Baritones”.

He was born Aldo Sigismondi in Brooklyn, New York in 1925, to Italian immigrants. His show business roots might have originated from his father, who worked as a comedian at an Italian-language theater. Sigismondi intended to become a journalist, but a falling-out with his teacher forced him to quit school and he entered singing as a second choice of career.

His first professional stint as a singer occurred in 1943, at a casino in Coney Island, and then moved on as a featured vocalist for the Carmen Cavallaro Orchestra. By then Sigismondi had his name changed as Alan Dale, taken after a fictional character in Robin Hood legend.

Dale released records on Signature Records, Columbia, Records, Decca, ABC, MGM, United Artists and Coral. His biggest hit was “Sweet and Gentle” which entered the Top 10 during the 50s music era. But since fainting on live television (as a result of a bleeding ulcer), his career had never regained its hold. Worse, he was attacked at a nightclub in 1958.

It had been rumored that Dale’s defiance to the Mafia’s prying into his career was a probable cause for the attack. His career faltered by the late 1950s and Dale gradually fell from the public eye. He died in 2002, aged 76.

Dale’s Early Days

Alan Dale was a natural performer just like his American-Italian father who worked as theater comedian. He possessed no stage fright even when he was a little kid. He even became a frequent guest on his father’s program. Dale originally intended to study journalism. However, after an argument with a teacher, he left school for good when he was 16 and decided to make it out on his own.

After numerous jobs, Dale was hired quickly for a singing job in Coney Island in 1944 through an encouragement of a common friend. After a year, he performed for Carmen Cavallero Orchestra, who called him “Alan-a-Dale,” which was named after one of the Merry Men in Robin Hood.

Dale’s Singing and Recording Career

Like any other struggling artists, Dale wouldn’t say “no” to a record deal. In 1947, record producer Bob Thiele encouraged the 22-year-old Dale to join Signature Records label as a solo artist. Shortly after that, Dale already got his own television show called The Alan Dale Show which was broadcast on DuMont Television Network and later on CBS.

After leaving the Columbia and Decca, Dale signed with Coral in 1953. Three of Dale’s singles became chart-topping hits. His single “(The Gang that Sang) Heart of My Heart” (along with Johnny Desmond and Don Cornell), reached #10 on Billboard in 1953. His vocal version of “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” reached #14 in 1955; another single “Sweet and Gentle,” also peaked at #10 in 1953.

After four successful years with Coral, Dale went back in label-hopping — from ABC to MGM and to his final label, United Artists. He also became a fixture on the radio in 1948, hosting his own show on the Mutual Radio Network. It only lasted for several months.

Dale’s career was slowly drifting and so was his health. Hosting a live telecast, he fainted and was rushed to the hospital with bleeding ulcer. Perry Como filled in Dale’s slot while he was in and out of the hospital during much of 1951.

Dale wrote a 1965 autobiography, The Spider and the Marionettes, that he thought somehow would help his faltering career. Dale was still able to do some small-time shows in New York. He died on April 20, 2002, aged 76.

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