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Don Cornell: 1919-2004
Don Cornell

Born: April 21, 1919 in New York, NY
Died: February 23, 2004 in Aventura, FL

Big band vocalist

by Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2004 Todd S. Jenkins

Big band singer Don Cornell, who achieved popularity in the 1950s and 60s with hits like "It Isn't Fair" and "I'm Yours", died on February 23, 2004, from emphysema and diabetes. He was 84 years old.

Cornell was born Luigi Francisco Varlaro in New York City in 1919. He began his professional career with jazz trumpeter Red Nichols in the mid-1940s and worked with the swing band of Sammy Kaye before going solo in 1950. Top records like "I'll Walk Alone", "It Isn't Fair", "Hold My Hand" and "I'm Yours", racked up sales of over fifty million units over a career which spanned over four decades.

Cornell was among the first artists to be honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1963. Thirty years later he was inducted into the Big Band Hall of Fame. He and his wife/manager, Iris, retired to Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, in 1979. Though his career was subsequently overshadowed, Cornell retained a loyal fan base across the country. He is survived by his wife, son Louis Varlaro of Denver, and daughter Donna Marie Varlaro of Denver.

Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.


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