Post by denise on May 24, 2021 16:01:21 GMT
Patti Lewis departed this world on January 15, 2021. She was 99 years old and had been living with dementia for a number of years in a senior care facility in Nevada.
On the occasion of her 98th birthday in 2019, I published on this forum a few lesser known and wholly unknown facts of Patti's life. The reasons for my research into Patti's life are outlined in that initial posting, so I will not repeat them here. Since Patti's passing a few more details have come to my attention, so that I feel it is necessary and appropriate to update my research of 2019.
I won't repeat the entire article, but merely update and correct certain items. As always, please do not re-post this information elsewhere.
Date of Birth
In the obituary, Patti's date of birth is given as November 20, 1921. This corresponds to data previously found on Ancestry.com and named in my original article. But that still does not explain why Jerry, more than once, wrote birthday letters to Patti dated on a November 21st. These letters are mentioned in my 2019 research.
As I originally said, Angelo Calonico (Colonico) was born in March 1893 in Scanno, Italy and emigrated to the US in 1906, settling in Monarch, WY and working as a coal miner. (Like Cambria, Monarch was a coal company town and is now a ghost town.) According to data on Findagrave, he fought in World War I in the US Army, arriving in France a few months before the armistice. After his discharge from the military, he settled in Cambria, WY and worked in the coal mines there. (According to my sources in Wyoming, there was a steady exchange of workers between Monarch in north-central Wyoming and Cambria in eastern Wyoming.) He married Patti's mother, Maria Rotellini, on January 20, 1921. (According to Findagrave. The divorce record says Jan. 19, 1921. I have not been able to corroborate the date from Wyoming sources.) After the Dec. 1929 divorce from Maria, Angelo re-married, to Ernestine Presidio. He died in a veterans' hospital in Saginaw, Michigan, on January 4, 1965, and was buried in St. Charles, Michigan. See de.findagrave.com/memorial/108004402/angelo-colonico?fbclid=IwAR3yM8XeGpKMYqITpO9y3uzKwhRcz9g3cXaz0Bc3jz7noccc9foMu8uHNb8
Looking at his photo, I see a strong resemblance to Anthony Lewis.
No new, additional information.
Patti's Detroit Years and First Marriage
The book Horn Man says that Patti met her future husband in California while working for an all-girl band. I now have to seriously doubt this information; the description of the circumstances fits neither Jimmy DiPalma and nor Jerry Lewis. In the first place, although Patti performed with all-girl bands from Detroit, I doubt that these bands performed beyond the greater Detroit area. Second, as we know, Patti and Jerry met in Detroit in Aug. 1944, while Patti was working for the Ted FioRito orchestra, and that was hardly an all-girl band.
Lastly, I now have the exact date and place of Patti's wedding to James DiPalma: Monday, January 12, 1942, at St. Anthony's Church in Rockford, Illinois. Patti's mother attended. Source: The Daily Notes, Canonsburg, PA, January 20, 1942, page 3. The article goes on to say that DiPalma, whose professional last name was Palmer, which Patti adopted, was performing in the area with the Bobby Byrne orchestra, as I correctly suspected in my original research. Unfortunately, the newspaper clipping is damaged just at the paragraph that describes how Patti and Jimmy DiPalma met, but I can decipher that Bobby Byrne and/or his father, a music instructor at Patti's high school, played a role. Likely they met while DiPalma, who was not from Detroit, performed with the Bobby Byrne band in Detroit. Byrne had attended the same high school where his father taught and as Patti, Cass Tech, which had a nationally renowned music studies program. So Patti knew Byrne Sr. and most certainly also Bobby. I assume Bobby introduced her to his vocalist Jimmy DiPalma. Why they married in Rockford, IL, is a mystery. I presume they were eager to marry and that location was the most convenient, considering that DiPalma was constantly performing on the road and would not have had many opportunities otherwise.
Back in Detroit, Ted FioRito heard Patti on Detroit radio, met her and immediately hired her as his female vocalist. In her book, Patti said that she was with FioRito for about a year. Since she left FioRito in Oct./Nov. 1944, that means she joined FioRito around the summer/fall of 1943. What did she do between high school graduation in 1939 and FioRito? She performed with the afore mentioned all-girl bands in/around Detroit (see the previous research), solo in restaurants and bars, USO shows, with her own small bands (Polish weddings, etc.) and on the local radio: with the station's staff singers, then her own short radio show, Two Pianos and Patti, and on a kiddie program on WJKB.
I do not know if Patti accompanied her new husband on the road. I also do not know what caused the eventual break-up of that marriage or when that occurred. To my knowledge, no children resulted from that marriage. I still have not found any data on a divorce or annulment, although I still lean to annulment for the previously mentioned reasons. But where or when – I have no idea.
Sources as mentioned above and at the end of the previous article on this forum.