Damone ends career on his terms

GOOD MORNING: “I don’t want anyone to ever say, ‘Why doesn’t he quit?’ So I’m doing it MY way, with an apology to Frank Sinatra — who was my mentor and like a brother to me.” Vic Damone is ending his singing career. “After 53 years (in the biz),” Damone asks, “where am I going?” Well, he’s going on the road with one last national tour, “A Farewell To Remember,” starting at Westbury Music Fair May 27 and winding at Carnegie Hall, May 18, 2001 when Damone will be 73. He hopes his last date in California will be at the Hollywood Bowl with John Williams conducting — he was Damone’s conductor for three years. Does Vic have any regrets after a music career in which he’s recorded more than 2,000 songs and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame? Yes, Damone’s saddened he was never invited to sing at any Grammy Awards show. “And Pierre Cossette is a good friend of mine — and was once my agent!” Damone said. Pierre says, “I’m a huge fan of Vic’s. But we never have had — in my 30 years with the Grammys — a performer who has not been nominated — except, perhaps, in a tribute segment. Maybe we can have a segment (in the future) called ‘The Crooners’ with Vic, Andy Williams and Tony Bennett.” … Of today’s music biz, Damone says, “It’s an age of mediocrity and today’s music sucks.” He lives in Palm Beach, Fla., and says he may open a jazz club down there, “and if I feel like singing, I can just drop in,” he laughs. He’s married to Rena Rowan D., co-founder of Jones of New York. He has four children, five grandchildren and plans to spend more time with them. He is an avid inventor, has several patents, and is working on more. The songs may be ending but Vic Damone’s memories linger on.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE: Spago was spilling over Tuesday at Barbara and Marvin Davis’ reception for Sidney Poitier on publication of his book, “The Measure of a Man, a spiritual autobiography” (Harper San Francisco). It has been 20 years since Poitier autographed his last book for me, “This Life” (Knopf). The current work is Poitier personified, proof positive of why he is so respected, admired and loved. Representatives from all branches of the biz were there, along with his family, led by wife Joanna Shimkus and their daughters. Longtime friends included his agent Martin Baum of CAA who has represented him since 1954. Also producer Walter Mirisch who produced “In the Heat of the Night.” P.S. They’ve talked about a contemporary version of the pic that won five Oscars. Those obtaining autographed copies of the book from Sidney included Michael Eisner — Poitier is a member of Disney’s board. Also there, Clive Davis, who was still beaming from his Arista anni party the night before. Longtime pal Berry Gordy and Mo Ostin also there from the music world to sing Sidney’s praises. Angela Bassett said Poitier “has been my inspiration since I was a little girl.” Also there, waiting patiently for an autographed copy, Suzanne De Passe, Wanda McDaniel and Al Ruddy, Anne and Arnold Kopelson, Cynthia Sikes (she’s “Jag” admiral’s new love interest) and husband Bud Yorkin, Cindra and Alan Ladd Jr. — Sidney reminded me he’d worked with Laddie’s dad in “All the Young Men.” Also there, Verna Harrah whose new Bel Air home is being decorated by Joanna (Shimkus) Poitier. Also Bernie Casey, LeVar Burton, Corinna and Freddie Fields, Danny Glover, Brock Peters, Katherine and Frank Price, George Schlatter and the entire Marvin Davis family. Sidney, Bahamas’ ambassador to Japan, heads over there in the fall, but first he and Joanna head on vacation. “And we now plan to take a lot more time seeing the world. Would he write another book? “Every day offers a couple of thoughts,” the 72 years young Poitier smiled. He’s constantly busy fielding scripts — CBS offered him a two-hour MOW, “The Last Brickmaker in America.” He’s waiting to see a final script. Poitier’s last for CBS, “The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn” was the web’s No. 1 show of the week.

DONNA KARAN DONATES $75,000 to the Save the Children Bedford-Stuyvesant Elllison Kids program in honor of the Vogue/Donna Karan “Framed” photo retro at the Ace Gallery in L.A. tonight. Lensers’ chef d’oeuvres on display include those of: Anne Leibovitz, Bob Willoughby, Richard Avedon, Sid Avery, Philippe Halsman, Herb Ritts, Firooz Zahedi, Francesco Scavullo, etc. … The Times of London has appointed Barbra Paskin as special L.A. correspondent on arts and entertainment. She covered Hollywood for the BBC for 20 years and her (next) book about those years is titled, “Hollywood Brit.” Her authorized bio of ailing Dudley Moore, “The Melancholy Clown,” will be published later this month by New Millennium. … Variety executive editor Jonathan Taylor and wife Paula are now home with their newborn twins, Benjamin Baruch and Ella Rae Taylor after a week’s stay at Cedars-Sinai. Twins are Taylor tradition: Jonathan’s brother Mark and his twin sister Nancy (Taylor-Walker) also have twins apiece. … Pianist Bob Chadwick makes a rare L.A. appearance tonight at the Cinegrill in Hollywood … Jerry Orbach is toasted by the N.Y. Friars April 17. Freddie Roman m.c’s … Bob Urich has returned to his longtime agent Merritt Blake at the Blake Agency … Arthur Hiller, unable to find angelic white robes for his star cast reading of “Bontshe Shvayg” by I.L. Peretz for Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans, finally got the costumes from his longtime pal, Father Ellwood Kieser who loaned him the robes of the choir at St. Paul’s the Apostle.

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