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Louis Prima
Birth: Dec. 7, 1910
Death: Aug. 24, 1978

Musician. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a child he studied violin for several years before claiming his brother’s trumpet. By the time he was twelve, and his fifteen-year-old brother Leon were leading their own band, which started as the pit band of the Saenger Theater. At 22, he was spotted performing with Red Nichols by Guy Lombardo who encouraged him to move to New York. There he formed his own band, Louis Prima and his New Orleans Gang. His 1936 composition "Sing, Sing Sing" became one of the biggest hits and most covered numbers of the period. In 1939, Prima dissolved his Gang in favor of fronting a big band of his own; The Gleeby Rhythm Orchestra. He moved to Los Angeles where he headlined at the Famous Door nightclub. In 1948, he hired sixteen year old Dorothy Keely Smith, as his singer and their onstage chemistry was immediate. He would make her Mrs. Prima number four in 1952. In 1954, Prima accepted a booking at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas and his late show became one of the city’s hottest attractions. Prima and Smith divorced in 1961, and he married another singer, Gia Maione, after which he continued to work in Vegas. In 1967, Disney, in an inspired decision, cast Prima in the animated feature, “The Jungle Book” as the orangutan, King Louis. "I Wanna Be Like You" was a hit song from the movie that led to the recording of two albums with Phil Harris who voiced Baloo the Bear: “The Jungle Book” and “More Jungle Book”, on Disneyland Records. He also appeared on the soundtrack to “The Man Called Flintstone”. Prima's act moved back to New Orleans Orleans in the early 1970s. In 1975 Prima underwent brain surgery in order to remove a tumor and lapsed into a coma. He remained hospitalized until his death almost three years later. He was interred in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans in a grey marble crypt topped by a figure of Gabriel, the angel with a trumpet. Prima’s music continues to be covered by other musicians, including the Brian Setzer Orchestra who covered the Prima standard "Jump and Jive and Wail" during the 1990s nouveau swing period, sending it to the top of the charts once again. (bio by: Iola) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Anthony Prima (1886 - 1961)
  Angelina Caravella Prima (1890 - 1965)
 
 Spouse:
  Gia Maione (1941 - 2013)*
 
 Sibling:
  Louis Prima (1910 - 1978)
  Margaret Prima (1915 - 1917)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Metairie Cemetery
New Orleans
Orleans Parish
Louisiana, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Feb 17, 1999
Find A Grave Memorial# 4567
Louis Prima
Added by: Iola
 
Louis Prima
Added by: Alan Brownsten
 
Louis Prima
Added by: Alan Brownsten
 
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Dear mr. prima. you were the best italian singer who sang with my name is oh my marie. which i liked it so much.which i want get it & play it with your songs on the cds. which i'm sorry that you passed away.which you are in gods hand now. you can sing for...(Read more)
- Marie Quoma
 Added: Oct. 15, 2014
In loving remembrance,
- Alexa K Richard
 Added: Sep. 6, 2014
Have fun up there,Big Cuz....
- Yvonne Mann
 Added: Sep. 4, 2014
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Current ranking for this person: (4.4 after 137 votes)
 

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