Nick Apollo Forte, the best-known cruise actor and singer for playing over-the-hill crooner Lou Canova in the 1984 Woody Allen film “Broadway Danny Rose”, died on February 26 in Waterbury, the Connecticut, where he was born. . He was 81 years old.
His death at the hospital was confirmed by his daughter Lynn Coleman.
Mr. Forte had a very short acting career, appearing in “Broadway Danny Rose” as a beefy musician (6 foot 1, 235 pounds) with a big ego and an alcohol problem who became a client of Danny Rose ( Woody Allen), a small part-time agent and personal manager whose talented stable includes skating penguins, a ball number and a woman who plays melodies on water glasses.
With Danny as a coach (“Don’t forget to do” My Funny Valentine “with the special words about landing on the moon!”) Lou ends up outside the Catskills and in the Waldorf Astoria, where they find themselves caught in a love triangle with a coppery blonde named Tina Vitale (Mia Farrow).
“Sir. Forte, who was himself a singer in the school of ruffle shirts when he was recruited for the film, is an absolute natural,” wrote Janet Maslin in his criticism for the New York Times. “He flourishes in his role with the absolute confidence which is the essential ingredient – perhaps the only one – of the mystique of Lou. “
With the exception of a few key differences – like Lou’s brown hair (his strawberry blonde curls were dyed), gold chains, and drinking issues – Mr. Forte’s character was not that different from Mr. Forte himself: he had spent 30 years playing in cabarets, nightclubs and hotel lounges before he was discovered by Mr. Allen’s casting agent.
While looking for someone to play the role, the casting agent found an album that Mr. Forte had released under his own label, entitled “Images”. (Mr. Allen ended up using two songs from the film’s album, both written by Mr. Forte: “Agita”, on indigestion, and “My Bambina”, written for the wedding of her daughter Robin.)
“The casting agent called Mr. Forte to ask for a resume and a recent photo,” the Times reported in 1984. “Mr. Forte did not have a resume, so he took” a little piece of paper, “he said, and scribbled:” I’m a nightclub host. I write music. I produce records. And, he added, “I’m fishing.”
After shooting the film, Mr. Forte admitted that he barely knew who Mr. Allen was when he agreed to work on the project.
“While we were making the film, I said to him, ‘Wood, I can’t put you. I’ve never seen one of your films in my life,’ said Mr. Forte.” And he said to me: “You are a very disturbed individual.” “
Nicola Antonio Forte was born in Waterbury on June 14, 1938, in Nicola and Carmela (Capizutto) Forte. His father was a factory worker, his mother a housewife.
Mr. Forte got his first big break in 1957, opening for Della Reese at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Shortly after, he dropped out of high school to pursue music, changing his stage name from Nicky Redman to Nick Apollo Forte in honor of the place.
He met Rosalie Trapasso when they were teenagers and they married in 1958. They had seven children.
Mr. Forte continued to perform in cabarets and nightclubs after “Broadway Rose” and spent 15 years headlining on cruise ships.
Besides his daughter Lynn, he is survived by his wife; three other daughters, Robin McCormack, Carmel Natelli and Shelly Giannini; her sons, Nicholas, Mark and Jeffery; his brother, Frank Dest; his sister, Aurelia Battista; 22 grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.
Mr. Forte, who rarely wandered from Waterbury when he was not on the road, took advantage of his time in the spotlight.
“Now everyone wants to be my friend, and they all want to hear the story of my life,” he said. The Times in 1984.
“Well, that’s it,” he said. “I have lived all my life within a square mile of this city. I was born in this house and I will probably die there. But I made a film and I didn’t know I could. Now I can get into any major record company. It’s Nick Apollo Forte. He can come in now. “