Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Postwar-era crooner Vic Damone died at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla., at the age of 89, his family announced.
Ed Henry, a family friend of Damone's, told The New York Times the singer's death Sunday was a result of complications of respiratory failure.
Damone was born Vito Farinola on June 12, 1928, in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and as a teenager took a job at the Paramount Theater in Manhattan where he performed a spontaneous audition for fellow crooner Perry Como, who put him in touch with a local band leader.
He signed a recording contract with Mercury Records in 1947 and had his own weekly radio show, "Saturday Night Serenade," at the age of 20 a year later.
Damone admired the work Frank Sinatra, whom he later befriended, and was known for using his natural vocal talent to create emotional renditions of songs such as "In the Still of the Night," "You'd Be So Easy to Love," "I Don't Want to Walk Without You" and "Come Rain or Come Shine."
"Without Frank there would not have been a Vic Damone," Damone once said.
He recorded about 2,500 songs throughout his 54-year career and also branched into acting securing regular roles in film and television and turning down a role in The Godfather.
Later in his career Damone performed primarily in nightclubs and became a mainstay on the Las Vegas Strip.
He had a a mild stroke in 2000 and retired from performing a year later before delivering his final performance at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach, Fla., in 2011.
"Vic Damone is the kind of performer who comes along once in a lifetime," Alex Dreyfoos, chairman of the Kravis Center, said during the performance. "Fortunately, he came along in our lifetime."
Damone was married five times and is survived by his two sisters, Elaine Seneca and Terry Sicuso, three daughters -- Victoria Damone, Andrea Damone-Brown and Daniella Damone-Woodard -- and six grandchildren.