Making the Wiseguys Weep: The Jimmy Roselli Story

Making the Wiseguys Weep: The Jimmy Roselli Story

by Evanier
     
 

The mob couldn't live with Jimmy Roselli and it couldn't live without him. Roselli is Hoboken's other great singer, and to a greater degree than Frank Sinatra, who lived down the street from him, Roselli maintained his ties to his old neighborhood and its people. He's their link to their cultural heritage and Italy, and he continues to sing a good half of his… See more details below

Overview

The mob couldn't live with Jimmy Roselli and it couldn't live without him. Roselli is Hoboken's other great singer, and to a greater degree than Frank Sinatra, who lived down the street from him, Roselli maintained his ties to his old neighborhood and its people. He's their link to their cultural heritage and Italy, and he continues to sing a good half of his repertoire in Italian. But this didn't stop his wiseguy following from getting angry at him from time to time. Roselli's best-loved song, "Little Pal," is the wiseguy anthem, which he sang at John Gotti, Jr.'s wedding reception. Carlo Gambino attended shows regularly and had Jimmy chauffeured to his Massapequa estate for dinner. Mobster Larry Gallo was buried with a Roselli record in his hands. Hoboken's unsung great singer feuded with Sinatra, stood up to shakedown artists, befriended godfathers. But he also spurned legitimate help, sometimes when he needed it the most, by telling off Ed Sullivan, refusing Merv Griffin, and turning down Francis Ford Coppola's offer to sing "Senza Mamma" in The Godfather, Part II. Nevertheless, Roselli now has thirty-six recordings in print, owns his own record company, and commands more than $100,000 a night in performance. With a cast of characters that includes Jimmy Durante, the Rat Pack, comedian Joe E. Lewis, and Tony Bennett, Making the Wiseguys Weep is the story of a brilliant entertainer as well as a portrait of Italian-American culture from the 240 saloons that lined Hoboken's streets to the ritzy Copacabana and the bright lights of Caesars Palace in Atlantic City.

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Editorial Reviews

Vincent Patrick
Fans of Jimmy Roselli...will welcome this thorough treatment of Roselli's career....Those who know nothing of Roselli will met...an American original....If it sends them out to sample his singing (as it outght to) Evanier will have performed a well-needed service.
The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
An exasperatingly inept biography of the other Italian-American singer from Hoboken. Ten years younger than Frank Sinatra, Roselli, though enormously popular with the Italian-American community, has lived in that shadow, and if this screed is credible, been kept from making it "big" by Sinatra and the mob. Novelist Evanier (Red Love) depends almost entirely on hearsay and the oral testimony of Roselli and some of his associates. He cites the occasional book for background, such as Richard Gambino's Blood of My Blood, but relies heavily on newspaper accounts, concert reviews, and album liner notes. Roselli started singing in Hoboken saloons before the age of 10. Sinatra, whose family lived down the street, was "amazed at my two-octave range," says Roselli. The two shared a stage just once, in 1937, at the dedication of a local park, when Sinatra was 22 and Roselli 12. Throughout the book, Evanier recounts slights and snubs; he reiterates Roselli's claim that his refusal to sing at a charity benefit put on by Sinatra's mother, Dolly, got his blackballed. There's no documentation of this and what little corroboration he offers comes from the often inarticulate recollections of Roselli's pals. While Evanier touts Roselli as one who defied the mob, he also outlines his career-long involvement with them (he sang at John Gotti Jr.'s wedding). Evanier recounts the singer's hassles with everyone from Ed Sullivan to Merv Griffin to New York's WNEW, the radio station that "yanked" his records at the behest of either Sinatra or the Gambino family. At the same time that he presents this as evidence as to why Roselli never "made it," he writes of $100,000 concert fees and million-dollarmansions. It makes no sense. As unpleasant, mercurial, and contradictory as Roselli would appear, even he deserves better than this account of his career.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374199272
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
12/28/1998
Pages:
260
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.24(h) x 0.94(d)

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