Singer Tony Orlando is recognized everywhere for his 1970s heydey with Dawn, but his career didn't begin with a variety show and a string of #1 pop hits. In the early '60s Tony was a teen idol, with top-selling songs like "Halfway to Paradise." He worked with songwriters like Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and was part of the creative ferment symbolized by the Brill Building in New York and fronted by flamboyant showmen like Murray the K and Don Kirschner.
Forever guaranteed a spot in pop culture history thanks to the 1973 anthem, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," singer Tony Orlando attempts to present a more three-dimensional portrait of his life in this often sentimental, occasionally dishy autobiography. From his New York childhood, to his short-lived career as a teen idol in the 1960s, to his 1970s variety show with backup group Dawn, one thing remains clear: Orlando is obsessed with show business and star-struck by celebrities. He rhapsodizes about the "superstar essence" of everyone from Connie Francis to Muhammad Ali (and regrets that he himself "never had it"). After meeting Minnie Pearl, Orlando writes, she "became part of my being." The book's final third gets darker as Orlando describes his cocaine addiction and friendship with the troubled comedian Freddie Prinze. While probably only true Orlando fans will enjoy reading about the minutia of the singer's career, there's still enough to keep True Hollywood Story addicts interested: drugs, suicide, a mental hospital, infidelity, divorce and a happy ending-in Branson, Missouri, no less-to top it all off. One 16-page b&w photo insert (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . Just what I wanted
Posted December 06, 2008 by Patty , New Fairfiel, CTBeing a very big fan of Tony Orlando, this book helped me to understand why he gives all he does to his performance. I could not put the book down. It really made me appreciate the type of life he lived, and person he became. It is a really good from rags to riches to troubled life to making a great life story.
St. Martin's Press
October 01, 2003
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Excerpt from Halfway to Paradise by Tony Orlando
About a year before I began work on this memoir, I went home to Tar Beach. It was the first time in several years that I had stood on those asphalt rooftops in New York City. I was filming a VH-1 special, Behind the Music, and the show's producers asked me to do some very difficult things -- to take a look back at some of the worst times of my life, to relive failures, losses, and despair. But in many ways the filming turned out to be a godsend, because I went back in time to some of my happiest days in the old neighborhood.
On West Twenty-first Street everybody's business was everybody's business, and everybody liked it that way. There was Sam the grocer, who lived two buildings from my tenement, and the other Sam, who owned the candy store on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Twenty-first Street. We knew when things were good and things were bad with their businesses and their families. We knew who was having pasteles for dinner and who was having goulash. It was a time of stickball games in the street, of cooling off in the water spewing from fire hydrants.
When people ask me how I can live in Branson, Missouri -- a small town in the Ozarks -- I always tell them I grew up on West Twenty-first Street between Seventh and Eighth, and it was a small town.
Over the years I've tried to get back to those streets as often as possible, to my old neighborhood, my touchstone. But at no time did I return with such a sense of self-awareness as when we filmed that special.
The tenement rooftops known as Tar Beach are where I first started dream-weaving my life. In the winter those rooftops became a mountaintop, where we could throw snowballs and hear our voices echo through the downtown canyons. Tar Beach was also my first stage. The fire escapes were my box seats and every stoop a front-row ticket. I'd stand there in the shadow of the Empire State Building, looking out over the Manhattan skyline, singing to imaginary crowds lining the stoops and fire escapes. The skyscrapers almost seemed like standing ovations. And I could almost believe I was a star. The most amazing part of my Tar Beach dream-weaving is that it came true.