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Tony Orlando

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Tony Orlando (born 3 April 1944) is an American singer best known for his time with the group Dawn in the early 1970s.

Born Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis to a Greek father and a Puerto Rican mother, he was raised in Manhattan’s then-notorious Hell’s Kitchen. His best friend was Freddie Prinze (who was of Puerto Rican and German descent).

Tony Orlando’s musical career started with The Five Gents, a doo-wop group he formed. His first success came when he recorded the hit “Halfway To Paradise”. After becoming general manager at Columbia Records, he was tempted back to a recording career when he was asked to record a demo record of “Candida”. The label liked the demo so much that Tony’s performance was released, under the band name “Dawn” (named after a record executive’s daughter).

Joining Tony were Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson, and the trio scored a string of #1 hits with “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Ole Oak Tree”, “Knock Three Times”, and “Candida”. With a successful recording career, Orlando then set his sights on television which resulted in his highly rated weekly variety series on CBS. Breaking new ground, it was television’s first multi-ethnic variety show. Orlando (of Hispanic and Greek origins) and Hopkins and Wilson (African Americans) were an instant hit.

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