Julius La Rosa, singer and former Little Godfrey, dead at 86

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Pop Singer Julius La Rosa, fired on Godfrey show, dies at 86

Julius La Rosa, the pop singer whose on-air firing from Arthur Godfrey Time famously changed the course of his career, died Thursday at his Wisconsin home. The 86-year-old's family confirmed the news for the New York Times and the AP on Sunday, citing natural causes. Born in Brooklyn, the crooner's showbiz career began amid a stint in the Navy after the renowned radio and TV host Arthur Godfrey discovered him, invited him to perform on TV, and, on air, promised him a full-time job once he was discharged. La Rosa accepted and upon his return in 1951, quickly amassed a passionate fan base as a radio and TV performer. Nearly two years later, however, La Rosa was fired for breaking two "Little Godfrey" rules, as detailed in A&E's below Biography clip:

Although the highly public incident marked the end of a relationship with Godfrey, it only temporarily cramped La Rosa's trajectory. The 23-year-old went on to notch such hits as the chart-topping "Eh, Cumpari" and "Domani"; appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, along with several other variety shows; and act in Let's Rock, Shirley Temple's Storybook, and The United States Steel Hour. In 1980, he earned a Daytime Emmy nom for a supporting role on NBC's Another World soap. He's survived by his wife, daughter, son, sister, and grandson.

See La Rosa through the years:

Julius La Rosa through the years
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Julius La Rosa, singer and former Little Godfrey, dead at 86
UNITED STATES - APRIL 20: DICK CLARK'S WORLD OF TALENT - Show Coverage 10/1959 Joan Fontaine, Julius La Rosa, Dick Clark (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - JULY 24: Singer Julius LaRosa, wife Rosemary, daughter Maria and son Chris attend Julius LaRosa's Opening Night Singing Engagement on July 24, 1990 at Rainbow & Stars, 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNSPECIFIED - Circa 1960: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of American popular singer Julius La Rosa posed circa 1960. (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
American singer Julius La Rosa (right) and his wife Rosemary Meyer (also known as Rory) attend a Muscular Dystrophy Association benefit dinner, New York, New York, November 1976. The benefit was a black-tie, hundred-dollar-a-plate affair held at the Fifth Avenue McDonalds fast-food restaurant. (Photo by Tim Boxer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 20: DICK CLARK'S WORLD OF TALENT - Show Coverage 10/1959 Julius La Rosa, Joan Fontaine, Jack E. Leoneard (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
Julius La Rosa signed headshot, smiling and wearing a suit, 1953. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
(L-R) Joe Garagiola, Julius LaRosa and Yogi Berra attend Julius LaRosa Opening on July 24, 1990 at Rainbow and Stars in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Singer Julius La Rosa and Jean Laird at the home on Aug. 17, 1954 in Boca Raton, Florida, USA. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Oct. 26, 1953, file photo, Julius La Rosa, who was fired from the Arthur Godfrey shows, listens to a question during a news conference in Ed Sullivan's apartment in New York. La Rosa, a pop singer known for hits including "Eh, Cumpari," has died at age 86. (AP Photo/John Lindsay, File)
Singer Julius La Rosa, who left the cast of the Arthur Godfrey radio and television show, is shown in this 1953 photo. (AP Photo)

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