Don Cornell (April 21, 1919 – February 23, 2004) was an American singer and top record seller during the big band era, the post war band years, and the fifties pop scene. he is regarded as one of American pop music's true superstars noted for his smooth but robust baritone voice.
Don Cornell was born Luigi Francisco Valero in New York City. He launched his music career as a guitarist with Red Nichols, and began his singing career in the late 1930s with a stint at the Hotel
Edison in New York. He recorded with the band of Bobby Hayes. In January of 1942 Don was with the orchestra of the McFarlane Twins. A few months later Cornell joined the band of Sammy Kaye, His tenure with the band was short lived however, as he joined the U.S. military. With the war over, Cornell got back together with the Sammy Kaye Orchestra replacing Billy Williams late in 1946 and began a productive stay. After just one year with the band, Don Cornell proved to be the most popular vocalist since the Kaye band was formed.
In early 1950, Don Cornell stepped into the recording studio for RCA and recorded the song "It Isn't Fair" with Sammy Kaye on #3609. Before the record ended its more than six months stay on the best seller charts it had sold well more than one million copies and was number two for six consecutive weeks kept out of the top spot by "The Third Man Theme". The enormity of the sales he had racked up convinced Cornell that he was ready to go out on his own after eight years with Sammy Kaye. Cornell had sixteen charted records with Kaye, all but two of those in the last three years. RCA Victor kept Cornell with their label and looked forward to the continuation of the string of hits.
Unfortunately things did not work out as RCA had planned and Dons records failed to sell. RCA then came to the conclusion that without Sammy Kaye, Don Cornell could not be as big a success as he had been in the past. In late 1951 they let him go after a decade together, and now Cornell was really on his own. In the first days of 1952 Don Cornell was signed to Coral Records, and he hoped a fresh new beginning would be what he needed to revive his flagging career.
Maybe it was the change of scenery, or perhaps it was just the right time, or maybe a bit of luck was involved. Whatever the reason, the first Cornell release for Coral was a song from the film of singer Jane Froman's life "With A Song In My Heart" - called "I'll Walk Alone".
The record began selling big almost immediately and carried Cornell into the top five best sellers and a five month stay on the charts. This record and most of Don Cornell's Coral recordings were accompanied by the Norman Leyden Orchestra. Almost before "I'll Walk Alone" began to fade, Coral was released in late spring featuring the song "I'm Yours". The song was perfectly suited for the strong baritone of Cornell and resulted in a massive hit record selling more than a million copies and reaching the number three position on the best seller charts. It stayed on the best seller list through the summer and re-established Cornell as one of the top recording stars of the post war era.
During his five decades in show business Don Cornell sold over 50 million records and charted with hits from 1949 to 1957 with such greats as "It Isn't Fair," "I'm Yours," "I'll Walk Alone," and "Hold My Hand." His version of "Hold My Hand" sold over one million copies, and topped the UK Singles Chart in 1954.
In 1963 Don Cornell was rewarded for his great career by being the recipient of a personal star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In later years Cornell made sporadic appearances in television such as on Miami Vice and BC Stryker. In 1979 Cornell moved to Florida. Considered a staple on the club circuit in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Cornell continued performing into his 80s. His voice remained remarkably consistent despite his advancing years.
In 1993, he was inducted into the Big Band Hall of Fame. His final performance was in February 2003. He died February 23, 2004, in Aventura, Florida from emphysema and diabetes at the age of 84. (info edited from various sources mainly earthlink.net)