Russ Columbo

Russ Columbo

Real Name:
Ruggiero Eugenio di Rodolpho Colombo
Born January 14, 1908 – Died September 2, 1934.
Russ Columbo was an American singer, violinist and actor, most famous for his signature tune, "You Call It Madness, But I Call It Love," his compositions "Prisoner of Love" and "Too Beautiful For Words", and the legend surrounding his early death.

Columbo was born in Camden, New Jersey, the twelfth child of Italian immigrant parents, Nicola and Giulia (Julia) Colombo. He started playing the violin while still very young, and debuted professionally at the age of 13. He left high school at 17 to travel with various bands around the country. He sang and played violin in numerous nightclubs.

Columbo did 7 vocals while with Arnheim as a member of the string section; 6 for OKeh and only 1 for Victor ("A Peach Of Pair" on June 18, 1930, a few months before Bing Crosby joined the band, along with Al Rinker and Harry Barris as "The Rhythm Boys").

Columbo tried to run a nightclub for a while, but the venture was unsuccessful. In 1931, he traveled to New York with his manager, songwriter Con Conrad. Conrad secured a late-night radio slot with NBC. This led to numerous engagements, a recording contract with RCA Victor records, and tremendous popularity with legions of mostly female fans. The type of singing that was popularized by the likes of Columbo, Rudy Vallee, and Bing Crosby is called crooning. Columbo disliked the label, but it caught on with the general public. It gained popular credence, despite its initial use as a term of derision for the singers employing their low, soothing voices in romantic songs.

Russ Columbo composed the songs "Prisoner of Love", "You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love)" with Con Conrad, Gladys Du Bois, and Paul Gregory, "Too Beautiful For Words", recorded by the Teddy Joyce Orchestra in 1935, "When You're in Love", "My Love", "Let's Pretend There's a Moon", recorded by Fats Waller and Tab Hunter, and "Hello Sister". "Prisoner of Love" is a standard that has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Art Tatum, Perry Como, the Ink Spots, Mildred Bailey, Teddy Wilson with Lena Horne on vocals, Bing Crosby, Billy Eckstine, and James Brown. Perry Como had a no.1 hit on Billboard with his recording. James Brown had a Top 20 pop hit and performed the song on the Ed Sullivan show and in the concert movie The T.A.M.I. Show (1964).

On September 2, 1934, Columbo was shot under peculiar circumstances by his longtime friend, photographer Lansing Brown. Columbo was visiting him at the studio one day. In lighting a cigarette, Brown lit the match by striking it against the wooden stock of an antique French dueling pistol. The flame set off a long-forgotten charge in the pistol chamber containing a lead ball. The ball ricocheted off a nearby table and hit Columbo in the left eye, killing him almost instantly. Columbo's death was ruled an accident, and Brown exonerated from blame. His funeral mass was attended by numerous Hollywood luminaries, including Bing Crosby and Carole Lombard.

However, the news was withheld from his mother by his brothers and sisters for ten years due to her previous heart condition; it was feared that the news would prove fatal to her (she died in 1944). They used all manner of subterfuges to give the impression that he was still alive, including faked letters from him and records used to simulate his radio program.

In 1958, singer Jerry Vale recorded a tribute album, I Remember Russ. In 1995, 61 years after Columbo's death, singer Tiny Tim released an album in tribute to Columbo, titled Prisoner Of Love (A Tribute to Russ Columbo), which he recorded with the group Clang.

Columbo is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Russ Columbo is one of the historical figures named in the Neil Diamond composition 'Done Too Soon'.
In Groups:

Russ Columbo Discography


Russ Columbo Love Songs By Russ Columbo (Album) RCA Victor US 1959 Sell This Version
2000/1 Russ Columbo The Films Of Russ Columbo(LP) Golden Legends (3) 2000/1 US Unknown Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

22867 Russ Columbo Where The Blue Of The Night / Prisoner Of Love(Shellac, 10") Victor 22867 US 1931 Sell This Version
22801 Russ Columbo Guilty / I Don't Know What I Just Do(Shellac, 10") Victor 22801 US 1931 Sell This Version
22903 Russ Columbo Save The Last Dance For Me / All Of Me(Shellac, 10") Victor 22903 US 1931 Sell This Version
24076 Russ Columbo And His Orchestra* As You Desire Me / The Lady I Love(Shellac, 10") Victor 24076 US 1932 Sell This Version
22976 Russ Columbo Paradise / Auf Wiedersehen, My Dear(Shellac, 10", RP) Victor 22976 US 1937 Sell This Version
B-10859 Russ Columbo Just Friends / All Of Me(Shellac, 10") Bluebird (3) B-10859 US 1940 Sell This Version
27635 Russ Columbo Sweet And Lovely / Prisoner Of Love(Shellac, 10") Victor 27635 US 1941 Sell This Version
27636 Russ Columbo Paradise / Goodnight Sweetheart(Shellac, 10") Victor 27636 US 1941 Sell This Version
Russ Columbo / Rudy Vallee Russ Columbo / Rudy Vallee - You Call It Madness / My Time Is Your Time Colgate-Palmolive Company US 1953 Sell This Version


LP 141 Russ Columbo Prisoner Of Love(LP, Comp) Pelican Records (2) LP 141 US 1975 Sell This Version
CPL1-1756(e) Russ Columbo A Legendary Performer(LP, Comp) RCA CPL1-1756(e) US 1976 Sell This Version
S.H.-2006, No. 6 Russ Columbo Russ Columbo(LP, Album, Comp, RM) Sandy Hook Records, Sandy Hook Records S.H.-2006, No. 6 US 1978 Sell This Version
CD AJA 5234 Russ Columbo Prisoner Of Love(CD, Comp) ASV LTD. CD AJA 5234 UK 1997 Sell This Version
Russ Columbo / Dick Powell (2) Russ Columbo / Dick Powell (2) - Russ Columbo Vol. 1: The Long Lost 1932 Broadcasts / Dick Powell 'Live' 1934 (Comp) Broncoli Gegend, Broncoli Gegend US Unknown Sell This Version
WPT 5 Russ Columbo, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra Russ Columbo, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra - Columbo, Crosby, Sinatra(3x7", Album + Box, Comp) RCA Victor WPT 5 US Unknown Sell This Version

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