Perry Como dead at 88

Singer Perry Como died on Saturday after a protracted illness in his home in Florida, according to press reports. He was 88 years old.

Como signed his first recording contract with RCA Victor in 1943 and starred on the weekly Chesterfield Radio Hour on NBC in 1948. He pioneered the variety show format on TV in the 1950s, becoming a fixture on small screen with his long-running Perry Como Show. He won an Emmy award for the show in 1956. His soft baritone voice and easy-going manner made him one of the most popular singers of his era.

Pierino Roland Como was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, on May 18, 1912, the seventh son of a seventh son, a traditional sign of luck in Italian families. He started singing to customers while he worked as a barber, and first gained national exposure while touring the country as a featured singer with the Ted Weems band.

Como retired briefly in the early 1970s, but made a comeback, appearing as the host of Christmas TV specials in the 1980s. He was honored with a Kennedy Center Award for lifetime achievement in 1987.