Statue of Frankie Laine to be unveiled in Little Italy

Ralph Edwards, Berle Adams and Frankie Laine tape an episode of ‘This Is Your Life’ in the late 1950s.

The late music legend — and Point Loma resident — Frankie Laine, whose given name was Francesco LoVecchio, will be honored with the unveiling of a six-foot-tall bronze replica on what would have been his 107th birthday. The statue dedication will begin at 11 a.m. Monday, March 30 at Nonna, 1735 India St. in Little Italy. The unveiling is set for noon.

Laine was well-recognized for having been one of the most popular entertainers of the 1940s and ’50s, performing with Nat King Cole, and guest-starring on the Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Dick Clark, Merv Griffin, Milton Berle and Perry Como shows. He also sang theme songs for two movie classics starring Kirk Douglas: “Man Without a Star” and “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” and the title song for Mel Brooks’ Western farce, “Blazing Saddles.”

In the early 1960s, Laine settled in a hilltop spread in Point Loma, where he was a supporter of local events and charities. In 2000, San Diego Chamber of Commerce dubbed him “The Prince of Point Loma.”

Laine was a longtime friend of the Busalacchi family and was known to frequent their restaurants in Little Italy and Hillcrest until his passing in 2007 at age 93.

According to Joe Busalacchi, Laine was like a father to him. He said they had a 22-year friendship, dating back to when Laine used to lunch at Busalacchi’s on Fifth Avenue. There, they would play cards in the afternoons. They even did a cooking segment together on a local NBC morning show. One year, for Busalacchi’s birthday, Laine gifted him the gold record he earned for his hit “I Believe.”

The unveiling will be done by Joe Busalacchi in the presence of Laine’s wife Marcia LoVecchio and Jimmy Marino, Laine’s producer and manager of more than 20 years. Complimentary coffee, tea and pastries will be provided for everyone in front of Café Zucchero (the café located inside Nonna), with a video presentation showcasing Laine’s life.

The statue was sponsored by Mary-Jo Coombs and Marino, executive producers of the nonprofit corporation Team Frankie Laine, which is dedicated to keeping the singer’s music and memory alive. —


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