End of an era: Perry Como’s Jupiter Island home demolished

Born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania,  “Mr. C.”, as he was nicknamed, sold millions of records for Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and pioneered a weekly musical variety television show, which set the standards for the genre and proved to be one of the most successful in television history. Como was seen weekly on television from 1949 to 1963, then continued hosting The Kraft Music Hall variety program on a monthly basis until 1967. His television shows and seasonal specials were broadcast throughout the world. Como produced numerous hit records with record sales so high the label literally stopped counting at Como’s behest: over 100 million records, 14 No. 1 singles. He was the first artist with 10 songs that sold a million copies each.

His combined success on television and popular recordings was unmatched by any other artist of the time. His appeal spanned generations and he was widely respected for both his professional standards and the conduct in his personal life. In the official RCA Records memorial, his life was summed up in these few words: “50 years of music and a life well lived. An example to all.”

Como received five Emmys from 1955 to 1959, was inducted into the Television Academy Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 1990, and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1987. Posthumously, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Como has the distinction of having three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio, television, and music.

Eventually forsaking the bright lights of the big city, he signed off on his TV specials with the acknowledgment to “that little piece of paradise called Jupiter, Florida.” Perry’s love of golf led him here. He and wife Roselle were friends with area golf course designer Toney Penna. In the early ’50s, they would drive down to Boca Raton in the winter for vacations; Mrs. Como was a big golfer, so they would go golfing with Mr. Penna and his wife who lived in Delray Beach, Florida.

The Comos first moved to a home in Tequesta on the Loxahatchee River. They next moved to a small house on the ocean before settling into a sprawling home on Jupiter Inlet with a great view of the Jupiter Lighthouse and a dock where Perry loved to fish for snook. Stories abound among local boaters who would tie up at the dock just to shoot the breeze with the amiable Comos. They always had time for a chat with friends and fans, the “regular folks.” They didn’t like pretense at all.

Roselle Como died after a heart attack in August 1998, a month after the couple’s 65th anniversary. Perry was already failing and never really recovered from the loss. Just as in life, Perry and Roselle are perpetually together in death. Twin stones mark their graves at Riverside Memorial Park in Tequesta. You’d never know that he was once one of the biggest stars in the world; there is no big mausoleum like you see with some celebrities, other graves are right next to theirs.

Perry Como sings “I Believe”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z37aM_F89dY

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