Debbie Reynolds’ favorite crooner in the late 1950s was almost certainly her husband, Eddie Fisher — at least until he had his famous fling with Liz Taylor — but before that, there just might have been another singer who made her swoon. Or at least that’s how her character in the 1954 movie, Susan Slept Here, made it appear. As you can see in the video below, she dances around the kitchen fixing breakfast for Dick Powell (almost 30 years her senior!) while entranced by crooner Don Cornell on the radio.
The Bronx-born Cornell actually started life as Luigi Varlaro, which means he was yet another of the many Italian-American crooners who have found success through the years. He first rose to fame as a band singer during World War II, appearing with Sammy Kaye and others. His success continued in the post-war years as he sold a lot of records with songs like “That’s My Desire,” “Room Full Of Roses,” and “It Isn’t Fair.”
He continued to bombard the charts with hits on into the 1950s, entertaining fans with tunes like “I’m Yours,” “I’ll Walk Alone,” and Debbie’s — er, Susan’s — favorite, “Hold My Hand.” In fact, that song was a million-seller for the crooner in 1954.
Cornell continued to be popular for the next couple of decades, appearing in clubs and on TV, and occasionally hitting the recording studio. He was known among his fans for being friendly and approachable, and his appearances were always well received. He eventually moved to Florida in his later years, and died in 2004.