First Time Ever in Broadcast
The Amazing Life of Russ
Four phenomenal hours of facts, fantasies and fantastic
Since this very special WYYR.com presentation
was originally broadcast in April 2010, there's been whirlwind of enthusiasm for Russ Columbo and
We, and Russ Columbo historian, Damon Leigh
have literally been
inundated with emails from all over the world!
Due, in large part, to the enthusiastic
response to these broadcasts, Damon Leigh has founded The Russ Columbo Society.
Hollywood celebrities such as Hugh Heffner,
Herb Jeffries, Gina Eckstine, Paula Kelly Jr and many others are lending their support to acheive our primary
To insure this great American entertainment icon is, at
long last, awarded his long overdue star on the Hollywood Walk of
Please click the following links for further
Russ Columbo on
The Russ Columbo
Here now is our special unprecedented Russ
Columbo 4 hour presentation.
I & II
Hollywood songwriter and Russ Columbo
historian, Damon Leigh, joins your host Chris Valenti to help unravel some of the myths and mysteries
surrounding this great man’s charmed life, meteoric musical career, and tragic violent death at the tender age
More intriguing than the JFK
Part I Two
Part II Two
Our Special Guest Damon Leigh
Bill Cwiklo's Russ Columbo
Best Russ Columbo
Book: A Prisoner of Love
As mentioned during the show by historian Damon Leigh,
this is the best book to get. Unfortunately author Mr. Tony Toran passed away just
after completing this amazing book! Yet another mystery!
Short Biography for Russ Columbo
Ruggiero Eugenio di Rodolpho Colombo(January 14, 1908 – September 2, 1934), better known as Russ Columbo, was an American singer, violinist and actor, most famous for his signature tune, "You Call It Madness, But I Call It Love," his
compositions "Prisoner of Love" and "Too Beautiful For Words", and the legend surrounding his early
Early life and career
Columbo was born
in Camden, New Jersey, the twelfth child of Italian immigrant parents, Nicola and Giulia (Julia) Colombo. He started playing the
violin while still very young, and debuted professionally at the age of 13. He left high school at 17 to
travel with various bands around the country. He sang and played violin in
By 1928, at the age of 20,
Columbo began to participate in motion pictures, including a Vitaphone short in which Columbo appeared as a member
of Gus Arnheim and His Orchestra. Eventually, he did obtain some feature work in
front of the camera, but he slowed down his activities in cinema to pursue other
Singer and composer
Columbo did 7 vocals while with
Arnheim as a member of the string section; 6 for OKeh and only 1 for Victor "A Peach Of Pair" on June 18, 1930, a
few months before Bing Crosby joined the band, along with Al Rinker and Harry Barris as "The Rhythm Boys".
Columbo tried to run a nightclub for a while,
but the venture was unsuccessful. In 1931, he traveled to New York with his manager, songwriter Con Conrad. Conrad secured a late-night radio slot
with NBC. This led to numerous engagements, a recording contract
with RCA Victor records, and tremendous popularity with legions of mostly female fans.
The type of singing that was popularized by the likes of Columbo, Rudy Vallee, and Bing Crosby is called crooning. Columbo disliked the label, but it caught on with the general
public. It gained popular credence, despite its initial use as a term of derision for the singers employing
their low, soothing voices in romantic songs.
Russ Columbo composed the songs "Prisoner of
Love", "You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love)" with Con Conrad, Gladys Du Bois, and Paul Gregory, "Too Beautiful
For Words", recorded by the Teddy Joyce Orchestra in 1935, "When You're in Love", "My Love", "Let's Pretend There's
a Moon", recorded by Fats Waller and Tab Hunter, and "Hello Sister". "Prisoner of Love" is a standard
that has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Art Tatum, Perry Como, the Ink Spots, Mildred Bailey, Teddy Wilson with Lena Horne on vocals, Bing Crosby, Billy Eckstine, and James Brown. Perry Como had a no.1 hit on Billboard with his recording. James
Brown had a Top 20 pop hit and performed the song on the Ed Sullivan show and in the concert
movie The T.A.M.I. Show (1964).
On September 2, 1934, Columbo
was shot under peculiar circumstances by his longtime friend, photographer Lansing Brown. Columbo was visiting him at the studio one day. In lighting a
cigarette, Brown lit the match by striking it against the wooden stock of an antique French dueling pistol.
The flame set off a long-forgotten charge in the pistol chamber containing a
lead balll. The ball ricocheted off a nearby table and hit Columbo in the left
eye, killing him almost instantly. Columbo's death was ruled an accident, and Brown exonerated from blame.
His funeral mass was attended by numerous Hollywood luminaries, including Bing
Crosby and Carole Lombard.
However, the news was withheld from his mother
by his brothers and sisters for ten years due to her previous heart condition; it was feared that the news would
prove fatal to her (she died in 1944). They used all manner of subterfuges to give the impression that he was still
alive, including faked letters from him and records used to simulate his radio program.
In 1995, 61 years after Columbo's death,
singer Tiny Tim released an entire album in tribute to Columbo,
titled Prisoner Of Love (A Tribute to Russ
Columbo), which he recorded with the group
Columbo is interred in
the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemeteryin Glendale, California.