World Famous Accordion Superstar
In the early evening hours of April 19, 2017, the beautiful music that came from the massive Petosa accordion that this very talented gentleman played for so many years, was forever silenced. Dick passed away peacefully at St. Agnes Medical Center with his wife by his side. Born on January 17, 1930, in the family home adjacent to Kearney Boulevard, Dick grew up surrounded by a very loving family. He attended St. Alphonso's School and Church where he served as an alter boy. His time at Fresno High School was punctuated by his popularity and he subsequently attended Fresno State College. Fame came to Dick early in life with the Horace Heidt Show and winning the National Grand Prize in 1948, the beginning of his extensive musical career. His 48 appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show were unprecedented and culminated in traveling to Russia with Mr. Sullivan to entertain in that country. After his service in Korea, with his brother, Victor, and his cousin, Victor Antonino, Dick returned home. In 1952, he returned to his professional music career which took place at the Mocambo in Los Angeles, CA, where celebrities filled the audience. In the 1950s, Dick met the beautiful Leigh Snowden, an actress for Universal Studios. They were married in 1956, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and began a wonderful marriage that endured until her death to melanoma in 1982. Dick and Leigh raised their three children, Merri, Deidre and Pete, along with Leigh's children, Cathie and Bob. All three of their children have followed in their parents footsteps enjoying careers in the music industry. Dick continued his musical career traveling extensively throughout the United States. Nothing brought him more joy than entertaining an audience, from showrooms in Las Vegas, NV, to many Italian events. The largest Italian Festa in Milwaukee, WI is celebrating its fortieth year this year and Dick entertained on the "Dick Contino" stage for 35 of those years. He had fans that have followed him from the late 1940s to the present, and many became his lifelong friends.He is survived by his wife Judy; his children; and his brothers, Victor Contino and wife Carolyn of Las Vegas, NV, and Pete and his wife Emily of Fresno, CA; two granddaughters, Covington Scaife of Arizona, and Izabel Leigh Contino
of Las Vegas, NV; and an endless list of cousins. In accordance with his wishes, Whitehurst Funeral Chapel in Fresno will be the site for his private memorial service and inurnment will take place at St. Peter's Cemetery next to his parents, Pietro and Mary Contino, and his beloved sister, Josephine "Babe" Grado-Christman. A public Celebration of his Life is scheduled at the Copa Room on Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV, for the evening of Friday, June 16, 2017, where he lived and entertained for so much of his life. We will miss that magical music, his larger than life presence, his welcoming personality and the deep and abiding love he had for his family. Written by Judy Contino.
Check out some classic Dick Contino performances below!
Milwaukee Festa Italiana 1985
American Music Awards - 1998
The "Sweetheart Medley"
Dick's Final Performance - 2014 Cotati Accordion Festival