Dick Contino, 1930–2017

Famed accordionist and actor Dick Contino, 87, died in his hometown of Fresno, Calif., April 19.  Contino rose to prominence as a charismatic performer in the 1950s.

Image Courtesy of AudioPreservationFund.org
– Dick Contino
An album cover for Dick Contino Plays & Sings The Hits.

A large part of the accordionist’s legacy is his famed stage presence, which helped advance the instrument’s regard in society. He was once billed as “The World’s Greatest Accordion Player,” and appeared on programs like “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

He eventually became a mainstay in Las Vegas and remained active well into his 80s, eventually moving back to Fresno to be closer to his daughter, Diedre Contino.

“There were young icons and television stars who made (the accordion) popular then, like Dick Contino,” founder of the International Accordion Convention Paul Pasquali told The Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He was the teenage sex symbol before Elvis.”