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

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