Contino was born of Italian parentage on
January 17,1930, in Fresno, California. He attended Fresno High and
played fullback on the football team until his father found out and
forced him to stop. As another activity, Dick played his accordion in
the school assemblies and at special functions. His accordion playing
popularized him so well that he easily won the class presidency at
played the accordion and it was he who gave Dick his first instructions.
Later, Dick traveled to San Francisco every Friday for six years to take
lessons. After school and on weekends Dick worked as a delivery boy in
his father's butcher shop, but he always had his accordion handy and
would practice many hours each day, striving for perfection and waiting
for the break that would carry him up the ladder of success to stardom.
from high school in 1947, Dick entered Fresno State to study an Arts
course. However, Dick's first and last love was his accordion and music,
so after the first semester he left college and went to work as a
delivery boy in his father's butcher shop, devoting all his spare time
to practice on the accordion.
interested in getting on a national broadcast and his ambition was to
gain popularity and recognition as an accordion soloist and to make
popular an instrument that had not been too successful in the
entertainment world. But jobs were not easy to-find. His family decided
finally that they would move to Los Angeles because they thought there
were greater musical opportunities there for this gifted boy. Dick's
mother sent him to the local musician's union to get his transfer to the
Los Angeles local.
Luck was with Dick
Contino, the handsome, talented, unknown accordion player who thus
far had been denied the opportunity to demonstrate his ability before
the American public.
Horace Heidt, the
master showman and an old friend of many years standing with audiences
everywhere, was coming out of retirement to go back on the air with his
"Original Youth Opportunity Program". The show was dedicated
to bringing before the American people not only the finest in
entertainment, but also to giving talented young people everywhere an
opportunity to display their talents arid win recognition in their
Horace felt the
only way possible to achieve this would be to take his show to the
people, so that those who could not leave the security of their homes to
take a chance in Hollywood or New York, would have an equal opportunity
to pass through the "door of opportunity".
Instead of a
typical Hollywood premier of his new show with much fanfare, Horace
scheduled his first broadcast for a typical American city, Fresno,
California. An advance-man was sent to Fresno to search for talent to
represent that cry and compete for fame and fortune with the American
public acting as judge.
Contino walked into the Fresno Musicians' Union to get his transfer
to Los Angeles, one secretary of the union introduced him to Heidt's
talent scout, who asked him to audition for him the following day. Dick
was filled with such hope and excitement that he did not tell his folks
about the audition, not wanting to build up their hopes and then have
them become disappointed if his audition was not successful.
The advance man
was greatly impressed with Dick's ability, and arranged for him to
audition for Horace Heidt. Horace was equally impressed, and at long
last Dick's dream of appearing on a national broadcast came true when
Horace selected him as one of four contestants to appear on the initial
Phillip Morris broadcast to compete for the weekly prize of $250, the
quarterly prize of $750 and the Grand prize of $5000.00
It was on the
otherwise calm night of December 7, 1946 Dick made his appearance on the
first Horace Heidt - Phillip Morris broadcast. Dick gave his rendition
of "Lady of Spain" and the bobby-sox audience stomped,
clapped, and yelled with frenzy, declaring him the winner by a margin of
a full 30 points on the electric applause meter, thereby awarding him
first prize of $250.
weeks of competition later with overpowering results on the applause
meter from California to Broadway, Contino stood up to a microphone at
Manhattan's radio station WNBC and slapped out "Bumble Boogie"
romping away with the first Horace Heidt Quarter Finals and a prize of
He became a
permanent member of the Musical Knights and toured theaters and
auditoriums from coast to coast.
He went on to win
the 1948 GRAND FINALS and the first prize money of $5,000. With the
Horace Heidt show as his launching pad, Dick went on to become the most
famous accordionist in history.
Contino, the legendary virtuoso of the accordion, is once again proving
himself as one of the premier entertainers of our time.
stars in main showrooms from Las Vegas to Atlantic City and headlines
many fairs and festivals throughout America. The California native who
has become known as the "world's greatest accordionist,"
recently completed a national tour in which he broke house records from
coast to coast. During his career, Dick has played virtually every major
stage and television show. He has also starred in films and daytime
sets Dick apart is a combination of innovative musical styling and a
personal philosophy developed through the experienced turmoil of early
stardom and the vicissitudes of show business. He has attained an inner
peace that makes him a delight to be near. Dick believes, I allow my
life to consume my art, rather than let my art consume me." Famous
for his distinctive playing technique, the bellow shake, he is able to
coax out of the instrument a warmth bordering on passion. "I treat
my audience like a living love relationship. I feed it and it feeds
me." Contino is intimate. He presents himself with a feeling of
moment to moment spontaneity .
best known for his million sellers such as Lady of Spain, Granada and
Tico Tico, he is equally at ease with current show material. Contino
also surprises audiences with his fine vocal stylings.
popularity has only grown as every year thousands of new fans discover
this artist's unique entertainment abilities. Able to completely
captivate an audience of any size with his charm, great looks and
technical virtuosity, Contino is nothing short of amazing!
IS ONLY ONE DICK CONTINO!"
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