Frankie Carle


Frankie Carle (born Francis Nunzio Carlone, March 25, 1903 – March 7, 2001) was an American pianist and bandleader. As a very popular bandleader in the 1940s and 1950s, Carle was nicknamed "The Wizard of the Keyboard". "Sunrise Serenade" was Carle's best-known composition, rising to No. 1 in the US in 1938 and selling more than one million copies.

Carle was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on March 25, 1903.[1] Born the son of a factory worker who could not afford a piano, he practiced on a dummy keyboard devised by his uncle, pianist Nicholas Colangelo, until he found a broken-down instrument in a dance hall. In 1916, a teenage Carle began working with his uncle's band as well as a number of local bands in the Rhode Island area. To gain further popularity in an America which still held prejudices against many Italian Americans, Carle did what many singers, such as Dean Martin and Jerry Vale, did during this time period; he changed his name from Carlone to Carle.

Carle started out working with a number of mainstream dance bands. His earliest known recordings and performances were with the Edwin J. McEnelly Orchestra from 1924-1929. In 1934, he played with Mal Hallett and his orchestra.[2] In 1935, he had his own orchestra and was billed in an ad for one night club as "America's Greatest Pianist."[3]

He received attention when he joined Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights[4] in 1939. He later became co-leader of the band. The popularity he attained while with Heidt's band allowed him to leave the band in 1944 and form his own band, The Frankie Carle Orchestra. When his daughter, Marjorie Hughes, sang with his band, he did not reveal their relationship until Walter Winchell published it.[5] His band disbanded after 1955 and he performed mainly as a soloist thereafter. From the 1950s until the 1980s, Carle performed as a single artist and maintained a close following of loyal fans.

Carle died of natural causes in Mesa, Arizona, in 2001, a few weeks shy of his 98th birthday and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills).[15] A Roman Catholic, Carle had a Mass of Christian burial at Holy Cross Church in Mesa, Arizona. He is survived by his daughter, Marjorie Hughes Wahl, granddaughter Susan Zimmerman, grandson Richard Douce, and great-granddaughter Veronica.