Tony Romano (musician)

Last updated
Tony Romano
Born(1915-09-26)September 26, 1915
Madera, California, U.S.
DiedMarch 4, 2005(2005-03-04) (aged 89)
Santa Ana, California
Genres Jazz
Years active1930–2000
Associated acts Joe Venuti, Frances Langford, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope

Tony Romano (September 26, 1915 – March 4, 2005) was an American jazz guitarist and singer. He performed on radio programs and in Hollywood musicals in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. He became most noted as the sideman and musical accompanist to Bob Hope and Frances Langford during their USO tours in World War II, Korean, and Vietnam wars.


Early life

Romano was born in Madera, California, one of nine children of an Italian immigrant shoemaker. According to Romano, his father played violin and guitar, and the entire family was musical. He said, "In our family, if you didn't sing, you didn't eat." [1]

In his youth, he played violin but took up the guitar after being inspired by Eddie Lang. At 17, Romano moved to Hollywood where he studied guitar with Paramount Studio's guitarist George Smith. [1]


Romano (right) with Hal Block, Bob Hope, Barney Dean, George Patton and Frances Langford during World War II HopewithGroupMeetsPattonWW2.jpg
Romano (right) with Hal Block, Bob Hope, Barney Dean, George Patton and Frances Langford during World War II

Romano built his career as a guitarist and singer for radio programs and Hollywood movie productions in the 1930s. He first worked on the Al Pearce radio program, then at Warner Brothers, where he composed arrangements for Dick Powell. Romano's 16-piece orchestra was the feature band for Morey Amsterdam and Mabel Todd's radio show. [2] He also worked on the Lucky Strike Hit Parade, at 20th Century Fox and later on the Pepsodent radio show for NBC. [1]

In September 1942, Bob Hope asked Romano to accompany him on his initial USO tour to entertain troops at bases in Alaska and the Aleutians. Hope had already enlisted singer Frances Langford and comedian Jerry Colonna but needed a musician and asked Colonna for a recommendation. Colonna said, "Get Tony Romano. Best guitar in the business." [3]

The foursome of Hope, Langford, comedian Jack Pepper and Romano performed in England, Sicily, North Africa and the South Pacific during World War II. [4] They also toured in 1948 during the Berlin Airlift and in Korea in the 1950s. During the Vietnam War, Romano accompanied Langford without Hope on USO circuit tours in Southeast Asia.

In between USO tours, Romano performed on several programs, including the Jack Carson radio show and recorded his own music (his recording Stars Fell on Alabama was a hit in 1956) as well as arranged songs for Johnny Mercer, Bing Crosby and others. [5]

Personal life

Romano was married to singer/actress Barbara Hayden. They had two children, Richard Niles and Lisa Hayden-Miller. Romano was married to Evelyn Collette from 1964 until his death in 2005. They had one child Regina Marie Romano Deese. [6]

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  1. 1 2 3 Smith, Don (12 June 1981). "Tony Romano Plays Laguna". Los Angeles Times. p. OC_D1.
  2. Nye, Carroll (25 November 1936). "'Laff and Swing' Series: Funster Morey Amsterdam, Wife and Tony Romano's Orchestra to be featured". Los Angeles Times. p. 9.
  3. Faith, William Robert (April 29, 2003). Bob Hope:A Life in Comedy (revised ed.). Da Capo Press. p.  140. ISBN   978-0-306-81207-1.
  4. Hope, Bob (7 August 1944). "I Never Left Home". Life. p.  41.
  5. Ames, Walter (9 July 1956). "Laine Talks Golf Rather Than Video; Romano Stays Busy". Los Angeles Times. p. C10.
  6. Lentz, Harris M. (May 9, 2006). Obituaries In The Performing Arts, 2005. McFarland & Co. ISBN   0-7864-2489-3.