In My Life : Tommy Leonetti©2008JCMarion


Tommy Leonetti was born in New Jersey in September of 1929. He was born as Nicola Tomaso Leonetti. By the time he was twenty years old he knew that his future was in the music field both as a performer and as a composer. He began his career as a vocalist of pop songs in the wake of the top stylists of the times such as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Tony Bennett. He began recording for the Capitol Records label in the early fifties with such songs as "I'm Available" / "And I Still Love You" on Capitol #2716. His version of "The Happy Wanderer" (# 2788) which was a world wide hit for Frank Weir, got into the top thirty sellers in the country". I Cried" (with "Now" on the flip side) for Capitol on #2861 also made the top thirty nationally. Other Capitol recordings by Leonetti were "Free" his biggest seller on # 3442 which cracked the top twenty five, "Secretly" a cover of an Andy Williams hit, and "Go Buy The Rings" on # 3510 recorded with Gordon Jenkins, "Tears For Souvenirs" and "When Love Gets Ahold On Me" on # 3590, and "Ever Since You Went Away" on #3065.

In 1957 Leonetti changed labels, moving to RCA and its Vik subsidiary label. This was also the year he joined the cast of the television program "Your Hit Parade". He remained with the TV show for its final two years. Some recordings in the late fifties for the Vik label were "The Other Man" / "Look At 'Er" on #0270, "Prescious Love" and "I'd Climb The Highest Mountain" on # 0286, "Beachcomber"/"In Times Like These" on 0306, "In My Life" and "Ring On A Ribbon" on # 0321,and "Soul Mates" and a cover of Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover" on # 0335. From Vik Leonetti was shifted to the parent label RCA Records in late 1958.

After Leonetti's stint on "Your Hit Parade" he made other television appearances on musical-variety shows such as Dick Clark's Saturday Night show and the weekly Steve Allen show for NBC. Tommy had one release for R & B giant Atlantic Records - "Without Love" (originally on that label by Clyde McPhatter) and "Bluebird Of Happiness" on # 2065 in 1960. He then recorded for RCA into the mid nineteen sixties. Some RCA recordings include "A Handful Of Happy New Years" and "I Remember" on # 7404,"Two Faces In The Dark" and "Moonlight Serenade" on # 7455, "Magic Mountain" and "I'll Forgive You But I Won't Forget You" on # 7567,"The Other Side Of The Tracks" and "I've Got Your Number"on # 8110, "Summer Around The World" / "A Girl Named Tamiko" on # 8165, and "Somebody Loves You" and "Soul Dancer" on # 8251. A bit of interesting history was that British Columbia radio named "Soul Dancer" as one of the top fifty records in 1964. Other RCA records were "Walk Don't Run" and "Three Heartaches For A Quarter" on # 8353, "Down By The Ocean" / "Don't Stand Up In A Canoe" on # 8404, "The Sweetheart Tree" and "I'm Taking You With Me" on # 8799,and "Crossroads" and "Credo" on # 10847. Leonetti took part along with many in the entertainment field protesting the arrest of comedian Lenny Bruce.

During the middle years of the decade Leonetti landed some acting assignments on television including "Gomer Pyle" and "I Spy". He also did a dramatic bit on a forgettable sci-fi movie called "The Human Duplicators" in 1965. In the late nineteen sixties Tommy Leonetti had married actress Cindy Robbins and moved to Australia. Along with his stepdaughter Kimberly Beck (who later became a television actress) he recorded a tune that she had written called "Let's Take A Walk". That record became a good sized hit in Australia and led to Leonetti landing a spot on television down under as a host of a late night musical variety show. He wrote (along with Bob Troupe) and recorded a song called "My City Of Sydney" a musical tribute that was used for years as a theme sign off for Australian TV. He appeared on the David Frost show and Playboy After Dark.

In the mid seventies Leonetti and his family moved back to the U.S. and he concentrated a great deal of effort on composing music more than recording vocals. He provided music for the films "Massacre At Central High" (starring Kimberly Beck), and "She Came To The Valley". Also for television Leonetti did the music for ABC series of Weekend Specials in 1978 and 1979. He continued his dramatic roles in programs such as "The Waltons", "Hawaii Five-O", and "Eddie Capra Mysteries". He continued to appear on variety shows such as Mike Douglas and The Tonight Show. As he worked to continue his varied career in music and drama, Tommy Leonetti was battling cancer. He lost that fight on September 15, 1979. He was only fifty years old. Little of his recorded history had made it to cds.

Vocalist, composer, television host, dramatic actor, these were some of the many talents shown by Tommy Leonetti. And we remember his two year stay as part of the cast of "Your Hit Parade" as we salute that show and its performers. They were all something special.

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