Big band vocalist Frank J. “Frankie Lester” DiVito of Charlotte, N.C. died on Dec. 6. He was 83.
DiVito’s career started on radio talent shows in the Philadelphia area where he grew up. He went onto appear with the Ted Lewis Orchestra, and was later chosen to replace Frank Sinatra in the band. Over the course of his career, he made a number of recordings, first developing and recording the phrasing that Sinatra perfected in the 1950’s.
DiVito toured the European Theatre of Operations during World War II with Hal McIntyre and his orchestra. After the war, DiVito stayed with McIntyre to record one of the first LP albums on Columbia Records. He went on to join the Buddy Morrow Orchestra, which led to a recording contract with RCA, where he established himself in the world of rhythm and blues.
It was after 10 years with the Billy May Orchestra that DiVito signed on to a two week engagement in Greenville, S.C. where he met Joyce Murphy Goode, with whom he eventually married and made his home in Charlotte, N.C., where they moved in 1990.
DiVito, aside from singing, served as the leader of the Billy May and Eddie Howard Orchestras. He also produced a big band show in Atlantic City, N.J. that featured himself as a leader, narrator and vocalist, went on the Mike Douglas Show and did an extended performance in Gotham’s Schubert Theatre.
He is survived by his wife, Joyce; five children; a niece and newphew; and six grandchildren.
Donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 1131, Fairfax, VA 22038 or Safeplace, Inc. (Shelter for Battered Women and Children), P.O. Box 816, Moulton, AL 35650.