Yesterday marked the passing of an iconic singer/actor best known for his portrayal of crooner Johnny Fontane in the Godfather I and III, and romance hits "Spanish Eyes" and "Volare".
It's hard to think of that movie without Martino. His portrayal of the wimpy, spoiled brat wedding singer and his open weeping in the Godfather's study conjures up memories of Italian-American machismo and vanity.
His "olive oil voice" and guinea charm was used in the film despite Frank Sinatra's protestation. 'Seems Frank had a little ego problem of his own.
Martino lived out his final years about 40 minutes from here, in Springfield, Pennsylvania. Ironically, that's just 5 minutes from where my own Italian-American grandparents lived and I subsequently spent a good bit of my childhood. While there weren't any huge weddings on the lawn, there was a fair amount of picnics with jug red, music, iced Italian cookies and cheese smelly enough to scare the kids away.
Martino was 82. Salute, Johnny. Thanks for the memories.