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Tony Orlando

Tony Orlando (center, with moustache) at a party in 1976
Background information
Birth name Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis
Born April 3, 1944 (1944-04-03) (age 65)
Occupations Singer
Associated acts The Five Gents
Tony Orlando and Dawn

Tony Orlando (born April 3, 1944) is an American singer best known for his work with the group Dawn in the early 1970s.



Born Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis to a Greek father and a Puerto Rican mother, he was raised in Manhattan's then-notorious Hell's Kitchen.

Tony Orlando's musical career started with The Five Gents, a doo-wop group he formed. His first success came when he recorded the hits Bless You and Halfway To Paradise in 1961. After becoming general manager at Columbia Records, he was tempted back to a recording career when he was asked to record a demo record of Candida. The label liked the demo so much that Tony's performance was released, under the band name Dawn (named after a record executive's daughter). After Orlando discovered that there were six touring groups using that name, Dawn became Dawn featuring Tony Orlando (which changed to Tony Orlando and Dawn in 1974).

Joining Tony were Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson, and the trio scored a string of #1 hits with Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, Knock Three Times, and He Don't Love You (Like I Love You). With a successful recording career, Orlando then set his sights on television which resulted in his highly rated weekly variety series Tony Orlando and Dawn on CBS. The show, which ran for four seasons from 1974 to 1976, welcomed the biggest names in show business each week as Tony's guests, including his boyhood idols, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Lewis.

In 1976 Orlando made national headlines by dancing with first lady Betty Ford at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City. The dance came at the time when Nancy Reagan made her entrance into the convention. Nancy's husband Ronald was running against Gerald Ford for the nomination. The dance fueled the media fury of the "Battle of the Wives." Orlando and Betty Ford danced when the band started playing "Tie A Yellow Ribbon." It was later reported that the Ford campaign slipped the song to the band when Nancy Reagan entered to steal attention away from her.

Orlando's close friend comedian Freddie Prinze killed himself in 1977. The death of his friend precipitated Orlando's breakdown and depression. He was briefly institutionalized but returned triumphantly to television with an NBC comeback special. But Orlando began performing solo without Dawn.

In 1980 the nation adopted the symbol of the yellow ribbon during the Iran hostage crisis. The yellow ribbon idea came from Orlando's hit "Tie A Yellow Ribbon." It has since become an international symbol of hope and homecoming.

In the 1980s Orlando was a dominant force in Las Vegas, headlining various hotels with sold-out audiences.

During the 1984-85 season of the Cosby Show (its first season), he played the part of a man who runs a community center.

In 1993 he opened the Tony Orlando Yellow Ribbon Music Theatre in Branson, Missouri. Branson played home to the live shows of such stars as Andy Williams, Bobby Vinton, Wayne Newton, Mel Tillis, Glen Campbell, Roy Clark and Ray Stevens. In 1997 Orlando began sharing a theatre with singer Wayne Newton. The partnership ended badly in 1999 when Newton was caught taping Orlando's conversations in the theatre. Orlando sued Newton, and Newton sued Orlando, and the lawsuits were eventually dropped. But the lifelong friends severed their relationship and the two haven't spoken since.

When the deal with Newton ended and the Branson theatre closed its doors, Orlando began successfully touring the country in sold-out concerts which he does to this day.

Orlando lives in Branson with his wife Frannie and daughter Jenny Rose. Orlando's son Jon Orlando is a successful public relations executive in Los Angeles, California.

Tony also has been a guest host of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telathon for many years.




  • Bless You (1961)
  • To Be With You (1976)
  • Livin' for the Music (1977)
  • Tony Orlando (1978)
  • I've Got Ryhtym (1979)

Solo hit singles

  • "Halfway To Paradise" (1961) US #39
  • "Bless You" (1961) US #15
  • "Happy Times (Are Here To Stay)" (1961) US #82
  • "Don't Let Go" (1978) AC #48
  • "Sweets For My Sweet" (1979) US #54; AC #20

Orlando also recorded with the studio group Wind in 1969 and had a #28 hit that year with Mak Believe.

Tony Orlando in popular culture

During the "Marge on the Lam" episode of the animated series The Simpsons, recurring character Troy McClure, while emceeing a public television marathon, opens with a version of his familiar catchphrase by stating: "Hi, I'm Troy McClure. You might remember me from such telethons as Out with Gout '88 and Let's Save Tony Orlando's House.", the latter inspiring the title of a song by the Hoboken, New Jersey indie rock band Yo La Tengo, which was released on the band's 2000 album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.

In the Sports Night episode "The Head Coach, Dinner and the Morning Mail," anchor Dan Rydell of Sports Night (the fictional show-within-a-show) is supposed to give the audience a piece of trivia about Troy Aikman for the show's "You Should Know" segment but, when nothing shows up on his teleprompter, he improvs a piece of trivia about Tony Orlando. He claims that Tony Orlando is neither Italian nor Latin, as one might assume, but that he actually hails from Greece. After the show is over, he admits that he was making it up off the top of his head and had no idea if it was true or not. His "improv" is partially correct, as Tony Orlando is of Greek descent.

In the Christmas episode of Stroker and Hoop, when Santa Claus was about to die, he asked C.A.R.R. to tell Mrs. Claus that Santa forgives her for an affair that she apparently had with Tony Orlando.

Tony Orlando appeared in an episode of MADtv doing a skit involving a court case, where the defense sings to persuade the jury about their side. Tony Orlando sings for the prosecution, thereby persuading the judge to give the defense jail for life.

He also had a cameo appearance as himself in the 2002 film Waking Up In Reno, in which he sings a version of "Knock Three Times" during a concert while a glammed-up Darlene (Natasha Richardson) is in attendance.

Tony Orlando has appeared in NutriSytem commercials with Dan Marino to show how much weight they lost.[1]

Tony Orlando is featured in "Larry the Cable Guy's Star Studded Christmas Extravaganza".[2]

In an episode of The King of Queens, Doug goes to a Tony Orlando concert.

Tony Orlando and Dawn are referenced in the song "Bitchin' Camaro" by The Dead Milkmen

Tony Orlando voiced the role of Christopher the lion in "The Kingdom Chums: Original Top Ten"

See also


  1. ^ Debree, Crissa Shoemaker (June 18, 2008). "Singer Orlando changes tune with help of Horsham firm". Calkins Media. Retrieved 10 January 2009.  
  2. ^ "Larry the Cable Guy's Star-Studded Christmas Extravaganza". TV Guide Online. November 21, 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2009.  

External links

Simple English

Tony Orlando
Birth name Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis
Born April 3, 1944 (1944-04-03) (age 66)
Origin Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
Genres Pop
Occupations Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1961Present
Labels Columbia
Associated acts Tony Orlando and Dawn

Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis (born April 3, 1944) better known as Tony Orlando is a American singer who was best known for being in the singing group, Tony Orlando and Dawn with Dawn and they were known for singing the songs, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree", "Knock Three Times", and "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)".

Orlando is from Greek, Latino, and Puerto Rican descent.



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