Vic Damone, crooner dies at 89; I met him years ago and he was a truly nice guy!

When I was in my 20's I worked backstage on Night of 100 Stars and several other extravaganzas produced by Alexander Cohen. I met so many legendary stars....many very nice and a few NOT.
Night of 100 Stars was held at Radio City Music Hall where I once worked and was familiar with the backstage areas because I had been a backstage tour guide. This was helpful to me when I talked myself into a parttime job with Mr. Cohen's office.

I remember working Night of 100 Stars, a taping filled with legendary stars from all over. My head was swimming as I bopped around backstage, mixing with Grace Kelly, Beverly Sills, Jimmy Stewart, Lana Turner, Gregory Peck and SO MANY MORE....many more than "100." One of these blogs, I'll print my backstage dressing room list....dozens of stars lumped together in small "Rockette" dressing rooms because there was litterally NO PLACE to put them all. It was all for a good cause, to raise money for the Screen Actor's Guild retirement homes on the East and West coasts.

Vic Damone- one of the stars I interacted with was Vic Damone, who was dating actress Diahann Carroll at the time.  Such a nice "star" attitude....if you didn't know already, you could tell he was from humble Brooklyn roots. I had heard that he was a good buddy of Sinatra and Tony Bennett and Peter Lawford and so many other stars. A laid back guy with a friendly no-nonsense tone...treated lowly assistants like me as if we were important. This was not the case with some of the other living legends I met!

We worked with rehearsals and camera angle blocking and then TAPING for hours and hours and hours. We literally were there until 3am to 4am. The limos were lined up down the block of the West 51st Street Radio City stage door entrance. I was living just a couple blocks away in a creepy old 4th floor cold water flat, next door to a couple of Rockettes.

As I came out of the Music Hall stage door, exhausted, I saw Vic and Diahann getting in their limo. He smiled and saw me starting to walk down the street. "Hey Jim! Where are you walking to?" I said I lived a couple blocks away on 52nd Street. Vic said "We'll give you's almost 4am!" And then he turned to his soon-to-be-wife Diahann Carroll (diva) and said "Move over Diahann"....Well let me tell you, she looked at me like I was DIRT under her feet! It was all in her eyes ("You're giving a ride to the HELP?") I didn't want to start a squabble with them, besides there were other celebs waiting for their cars so I just waved again and said "No, really I'm fine! Thanks for the offer!" And then I scooted off down the street quickly before Vic "Mr. Nice Guy" Damone insisted.

I've always wondered what Miss Diahann "attitude" Carroll said after the car pulled out. I looked her up one day and found out that she was the daughter of a subway conductor and a house maid yet she had more attitude than the Queen of Sheba.

Rest in Peace Mr. Damone.


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