July 14, 2024

Johnny Mathis and Stories from His 65 Years in Show Business

I was quite the impressionist when I was a young boy, and that talent carried over into adulthood. One of the impersonations I did was the legendary singer Johnny Mathis. I grew up after he rocketed to global stardom, but I heard his songs constantly whether it was at home or while visiting friends and family.

Inevitably, through osmosis probably, I began to sing like Mathis, and at family parties, I was always called upon to mimic Richard Nixon, Rodney Dangerfield, and Mathis, to great adulation.

Thinking back, I’m convinced that Mathis was most likely one of my first celebrity crushes. At that time, even in his 40s, Mathis was a supremely good-looking man. And it wasn’t until later in my life, actually not that long ago, that I learned he was gay. Mathis has always been a little reluctant to talk about his personal life.

First, for those unfamiliar with Mathis, or for those who need a refresher course, here’s a brief history of this music legend. Mathis began his singing career in 1956. In 1957, Mathis shot to stardom after appearing on the popular¬†Ed Sullivan Show¬†on CBS, and later that year released his first number 1 hit and one of his all-time greatest songs, “Chances Are.” He went on to record nearly 80 albums, 18 of which sold over 500,000, and 43 songs that made the Billboard top 100.

He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Mathis was Justin Bieber before there was a Justin Bieber. He was an international superstar and heartthrob. He’s often been compared to legendary crooner Nat King Cole, and his contemporaries include other legendary performers such as Neil Sedaka, Andy Williams, and Barbra Streisand.

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