Julius LaRosa, the Brooklyn-born boyish singer who was fired by Arthur Godfrey on the air in 1953, passed away on Thursday at age 86 in Crivitz, Wisconsin.
Having joined Mr. Godfrey's CBS radio and television shows right after leaving the Navy in 1951, Mr. LaRosa became a very popular member of Arthur's cast, known to one and all as the "Little Godfreys."
The Old Redhead was a one-man profit center for CBS, as host of his successful television shows Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and Arthur Godfrey and His Friends, as well as his Arthur Godfrey Time weekday radio-TV simulcasts.
After his third recording for Cadence Records, founded by Mr. Godfrey's musican director Archie Bleyer, and a dispute between Julius and Arthur over the former's absence from a mandatory dance class (due to a family emergency), Julius hired his own manager, which didn't sit well with Arthur.
Julius, at the time, was receiving at least 7,000 fan letters a week.
On October 19, 1953, after the conclusion of the TV portion of the Arthur Godfrey Time simulcast, Arthur told Julius on the radio-only portion the story of how he went to become "a great big name," then asked him to sing "I'll Take Manhattan."
After Mr. LaRosa finished singing that song, Mr. Godfrey told him "Thanks ever so much, Julie. That was Julie's swan song with us."
In short, Julius LaRosa was fired on the air.
Soon afterward, at a news conference, Arthur said that Julius lacked humility.
Days later, the Old Redhead canned bandleader/musical director Archie Bleyer, whose Cadence Records label recorded not only Julius' songs, but also a series of spoken word records with Don McNeill, whose Chicago-based ABC Radio show The Breakfast Club competed with Arthur's show.
As for Julius, he had a series of hit recordings at Cadence, including "Anywhere I Wonder" and "Eh Cumpari (which reached #2 on Billboard's pop charts)."
After making numerous appearanced on Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town, Julius would headline a number of mid-to-late 1950s summer replacement shows.
Julius starred in the 1958 Columbia motion picture "Let's Rock."
Arthur Godfrey himself passed away in 1983.