Julius La Rosa Dies

Former singer and actor Julius La Rosa, 89, died of natural causes in his Wisconsin home May 12. 

Photo: John Lindsay/AP, file
Listens to a question during a news conference in Ed Sullivan’s apartment in New York.

La Rosa sang such songs as “Eh, Cumpari” and earned a Daytime Emmy for his role in “Another World,” but was best known for his time on and dismissal from Arthur Godfrey’s television show.

Fresh out of the Navy, he was discovered by Godfrey after being discharged and began crooning pop hits on the broadcasting giant’s show in 1951. La Rosa skyrocketed in popularity and his mailbag soon outweighed that of the show’s host.

Godfrey often exercised control over his performers, and when La Rosa inked a record deal and signed with an independent agent, the relationship began to sour.

“Arthur told all of us that they shouldn’t go out and get managers or an agent, because if he had to deal with all the agents, he’d never get his shows on the air,” Phylis McGuire of the McGuire Sisters said in an interview.

On Oct. 19, 1953, Godfrey invited La Rosa to sing “Manhattan” live on the show’s radio-only portion, and then famously fired him on-air with the following words: “That was Julie’s swan song with us. He goes now out on his own, as his own star, soon to be seen in his own programs.”

La Rosa did in fact go on to sing on the Perry Como and Ed Sullivan shows and would eventually host his own show in 1955. Godfrey’s public image took a major hit as a result of the ordeal however, which caused broadcaster Larry King to refer to the incident as “one of the great broadcasting mistakes of all time.”