The news arrived last night that Nick Apollo Forte (b. 1938) has died. The Italian-American lounge and cruise ship singer from Waterbury Connecticut earned his nickname when he opened for Della Reese at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre in 1956. He produced and distributed his own records for years, until he was finally cast by Woody Allen as Lou Canova in Broadway Danny Rose (1984), his best known (and for most people, only known) credit. For someone who was cast for his authenticity rather than his acting experience, Forte turned in a memorable performance that served the plot well. As for his other credits? Around the time of the film’s release he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. A 1987 appearance on The Ellen Burstyn Show and a 2016 turn on Billions are his only other national credits. After this he returned to the small time venues that were his meat and potatoes. It seems crazy that he never pursued roles with Scorsese, for example, or even one episode of The Sopranos, but apparently he loved everything about his home turf. He vacationed every summer in Snug Harbor, Rhode Island (which happens to be in my hometown of South Kingstown!). He loved boating and fishing and even sang sea chanties. Even his signature tune was about seafood: “Scungilli”. Now, may God forgive me, he himself sleeps with the fishes.
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