The Wistful Baritone : Alan Dale ©2002JCMarion


Alan Dale, born Aldo Sigismondi in Brooklyn, New York in 1925, was born into a show business oriented family. His father Aristede, was a performer specializing in comedy and music in Italian Theater. It was on his father's local radio program that young Aldo first sang in public in 1934. In early 1941 the young singer auditioned for a job at a Coney Island night spot called the Club Atlantis. He soon became a local favorite and this popularity led to an important date at Leon and Eddie in Manhattan and a tryout as a vocalist with the band of Carmen Cavallaro. When Hollywood called on Cavallaro, he disbanded his orchestra and the newly renamed Alan Dale signed on with the band of George Paxton where he remained for three years. His first recording was with the Paxton band on "Every Time We Say Goodbye" on Hit #7121.

In 1946 Alan Dale decided to enter the music field as a solo performer leaving the band of George Paxton. But it was the medium of radio that called first. Dale had a part in a radio show called "Sing It Again" with Patti Clayton and Bob Howard and the orchestra of Ray Bloch. The show was heard on the CBS network in 1947. With Ray Bloch, Alan Dale recorded the song "Kate (Have I Come Too Early Too Late)?" for Signature Records #15114 which in September of 1947 reached the number eleven position. Another record for the independent Signature label was a tune called "At The Candlelight Cafe" (#15176) which was not successful, but his next recording session resulted in a tune that charted for Dale during the summer of 1948. It was a duet with Connie Haines on the old standard "Darktown Strutter's Ball" on #15197 and was a top 30 seller. "Goodnight Sweetheart" on Signature ##15234 was lost in the new releases, and so Dale had to wait for six years before he appeared on the charts again. Meanwhile, he had a hand in the new medium of television with "The Alan Dale Show" with Janie Ford

One record by Dale that seemed to have a great deal of popularity although it did not appear on the best seller charts was his version of the melody from "O Sole Mio" which was entitled "It's Now Or Never" which he recorded for a little remembered subsidiary label of Columbia called Harmony Records (#6078). The tune from the movie musical "Two Tickets To Broadway" was a big song in early 1950. Although Tony Martin had the big seller of the tune, Dale's version had many supporters. By the early 1950s Alan Dale was now recording for Coral Records, part of the Decca group. His first two releases for the new label were re-issues of sides he had done for Signature four years before - "Oh Marie" on Coral #60699, and "Darktown Strutters Ball" on #60700. In the early 1950s Alan Dale returned to television with the 1951 program "Actors Hotel" in the role of Uncle Antonio, and the 1953 ABC show "Opera vs. Jazz" which also featured Don Cornell and Jan Peerce.

In early 1954 "Heart Of My Heart" with The 3 D's on Coral #61076 was a top ten seller, and the followup "East Side, West Side" (also known as "The Sidewalks of New York") with Buddy Greco replacing Don Cornell of the 3 D's, also charted in the top 30. A third offering, again with Greco, did not do well - "There Is No Happiness For Me" / "Don't" on #61268. The time of rock 'n roll was upon the land and the big band singers and romantic vocalists were disappearing from the airwaves, or so it seemed.

In 1955 Dale had his best showing as a recording artist. In April "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" (originally by mambo band leader Perez Prado) on #61373 was released.The record was a top 15 seller and stayed on the best seller list for two months. Later in the year during the summer, Dale recorded another Latin styled tune called "Sweet And Gentle" on #61435. This was a top ten seller and had a three month stay on the best seller lists. Keeping with the successful trend, Dale next recorded "Rockin' The Cha Cha" on #61495 and attempted to keep his style as current as possible. Somehow it worked ! In a real turn around, Alan Dale played the lead in a motion picture called "Don't Knock The Rock" which starred Alan Freed, the pied piper of rock music. Also in the cast was Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Bill haley & The Comets. Alan Dale as a rock idol ? In Hollywood anything can become a reality. In a tribute to his natural talent, Dale pulled it off but the wildest changeover was yet to come.

In 1956, the radio program "Make Believe Ballroom" (originated in New York by Martin Block) which had been reflective of the pop music scene in the country since the mid thirties, held their annual listeners poll of most favored artists. The hands down winner in the male vocalist category for the year was Alan Dale. This unexpected showing was proof positive of the public's acknowledgement of his talent. Next came a strange pairing in 1956 with old pal Buddy Hackett on "Pardners" on #61677 (was this a Martin & Lewis rip off ?). In 1957 Alan Dale released the title tune from his Alan Freed film on #61752 - "Don't Knock The Rock". The next two Coral releases seem to say it all about Dale when taken together. Coral #61781 was a cover (a cover !) of Little Richard's "The Girl Can't Help It" and honestly it was better than Pat Boone's "Tutti Frutti" ! Next was "Theresa" / "All I Have Is A Love Song" (#61817) with the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. Any pop singer who could make that parlay work has got to be someone special.

In person appearances continued to be successful whether they were in mid Manhattan or the New York City outlying boroughs such as shows at Brooklyn's Town & Country, and in Queens at The Boulevard. Unfortunately the dark side of the entertainment industry became involved with Alan Dale when rumors of organized crime's attempt to take over his management for a piece of the action surfaced. Dale's resistance to play along led to further talk of a "blacklist" against him. The conspiracy gained great credence when Dale was physically assaulted and injured at the Latin Quarter night club in New York in 1958. His career as a pop vocalist now faded and he turned to a new vocation - writing. In the mid sixties his autobiography called "The Spider And The Marionettes" was a hard look at the excesses and abuses of the music industry. Many publishers got cold feet at the last minute, but eventually the book was published and many in the industry were not pleased. Alan Dale had done it his way and not turned back.

A lot of these memories came flooding back as news came of the death of Alan Dale in April of 2002. Remaining is the fact of an immense talent that was able to weather the changes in the musical fads and fortunes of America and come out on top again and again - all without compromise. Alan Dale's life and times is a true American tale of courage and success.

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