Dick Contino (b. 17 January 1930) was born in Fresno, California and is an American accordionist and singer. Contino studied accordion primarily with San Francisco-based Angelo Cognazzo, and occasionally with Los Angeles-based Guido Deiro. Early on he exhibited great virtuosity on the instrument.
Contino got his big break on December 7, 1947 when he played Lady of Spain (his signature piece) and won first place in the Horace Heidt/Philip Morris talent contest in Fresno which was broadcast on national radio. Contino also won first place in subsequent competitions in Los Angeles, Omaha, Des Moines, Youngstown, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and New York City. He won first place in the final round on December 12, 1948 in Washington, D.C. Eddie Fisher had much better success with the song in 1952. Contino's song "Yours" was his first hit single. The song reached #27 on the U.S. pop charts in 1954. His second and only other hit single was "Pledge My Love." It reached #42 on the U.S. pop charts in 1957. Contino toured with the Horace Heidt Orchestra and was billed as the "world's greatest accordion player." He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show a record 48 times.
His success was interrupted when Contino was drafted during the Korean War. Contino, at the time earning a reported $4,000 per week, fled from pre-induction barracks at Fort Ord, due to extreme and unpublicized phobias and neuroses. He was falsely labeled a 'draft dodger' and was jailed for a few months before proudly serving in the United States armed forces and being honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant and receiving a Presidential Pardon. The resultant scandal dealt Contino's career a serious blow, but he continued performing, including acting in a few movies in the 1950s and 1960s.Contino's acting became known to a new generation in 1991, when "Daddy-O," a low-budget 1958 movie in which he played the starring role as a faddishly-dressed beat rebel and singer, became the centerpiece of an episode of the third season of "Mystery Science Theatre 3000." Contino continues to perform regularly throughout the United States.
Scope and Content
Item consists of a portrait of Dick Contino and Ed Sullivan onstage.
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