Al Martino (born Alfred Cini, October 7, 1927, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an Italian American singer and actor. Allmusic journalist Steve Huey states, "Martino was one of the great Italian American pop crooners, boasting a string of hit singles and albums that stretched from the early 1950s all the way into the mid 1970s. However, he is perhaps even better known for his role in The Godfather as singer Johnny Fontane, a character supposedly based on Frank Sinatra, but with eerie similarities to Martino's own career."
His Italian immigrant parents ran a masonry business, and he worked alongside his brothers as a bricklayer whilst growing up. However, he was more interested in music, and was inspired by Al Jolson and Perry Como to try his own hand at singing. When his boyhood friend Alfredo Cocozza changed his name to Mario Lanza and became an international opera star, the possibility of a career in music suddenly seemed plausible.
After service with the U.S. Marines in World War II, including being a part of the Iwo Jima invasion where he was wounded, he commenced his singing career. Adopting the stage name Al Martino (after his maternal grandfather's last name), he performed in local nightclubs for a time, and moved to New York in 1948 with Lanza's encouragement. He went on to win first place on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television program, thanks to a rendition of Como's "If," and that exposure helped him land a recording contract with the Philadelphia based independent label, BBS.