Vernon Shibla/Hulton Archive/Getty
05/19/2014 at 06:00 AM EDT
Jerry Vale, the beloved crooner known for his high-tenor voice and romantic songs in the 1950s and early 1960s, has died. He was 83.
Vale, who had been in declining health, died Sunday at his Palm Desert home surrounded by family and friends, family attorney Harold J. Levy said in a statement.
He is survived by Rita, his wife of 55 years; a son, Robert; and a daughter, Pamela.
Born Genaro Louis Vitaliano, Vale started performing in New York supper clubs as a teenager and went on to record more than 50 albums. His rendition of "Volare," ''Innamorata" and "Al Di La" became classic Italian-American songs. His biggest hit was "You Don't Know Me."
Vale's recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the 1960s was played at sporting events for years.
While his albums failed to make the charts in the early 1970s, Vale remained a popular club act.
He also appeared as himself in the Martin Scorsese movies Goodfellas
and TV's The Sopranos
Vale was a friend of fellow Italian-American crooner Frank Sinatra
, and he was an honorary pallbearer at Sinatra's funeral
on May 20, 1998.
"While performing at the Sands [Hotel, in Las Vegas], I befriended a number of fellow entertainers. There was Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole and, of course, I worked alongside one of my early idols, Frank Sinatra, whose generous recommendation landed me the job in the first place," Vale told Palm Springs Life
"I had heard so many negative stories about Frank that I was somewhat apprehensive to approach him. To my absolute surprise, he would up being quite amiable and the most caring individual that I have ever known."