The Other Tony Pastor

Well I hope you know that the title of this post is due to the fact that the original Tony Pastor was the father of vaudeville. We have been frustrated on occasion in googling that important guy on account of a younger gent who had the temerity to usurp his name, a singer, sax player and big band leader whose real name was Antonio Pestritto (1907-1969)

The second Tony Pastor was from Middletown, Connecticut, just a few miles south of Hartford. He picked up the sax in his early ’20s, and was playing with big bands by 1927. Among the many famous bandleaders he worked with were Joe Venuti, Vincent Lopez, and Artie Shaw. After Shaw walked out on in his band in 1939, Pastor formed his own group which he managed to keep going for two decades. Pastor appeared in some musical movie shorts in the late ’30s and early ’40s, had his own NBC radio show, appeared in the 1947 feature Two Blondes and a Redhead, and could be seen on such TV variety programs as Kraft Music Hall, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, and Cavalcade of Bands. He wasn’t the strongest singer, but he lot of charisma. His vocal style and attitude remind me a bit of Louis Prima.

After disbanding his large ensemble Pastor spent his last decade playing in Vegas lounges with small combos, with his son. His son Guy Pastor (who I’m assuming was named after Guy Lombardo) played his dad in Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story (1982).

For more on show business history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.