Archive for February 27th, 2011

1915, February 27 – BIRTH OF OLAVI VIRTA

Singer, Composer, Lyricist (Pisces) – A silence fell on the theater at the sight of this decrepit, thin, man being helped on to the stage where he shuffled to the microphone with the help of a cane; the audience was stunned…so this was what had become of the legendary King of Finnish Tango, Olavi Virta…but when he began to sing the Olavi that had been so beloved came back, his voice, his manner, the sensitivity that had made his “Tango Desiree” popular all over Europe…there was a sadness in the enthsusiastic applause that followed and more than one misty eye…in a few months time, in a state of absolute poverty, he  would be dead from diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver; he was 57 years old…Olavi Virta was born in the town of  Sysma, Finland to a father who was a cobbler and a mother who was a seamstress but it was a musical family; both his father and his grandfather were singers…his parents however, would divorce when he was still young…from an early age he was interested in music and at the age of eight he began taking violin lessons; he joined the youth orchestra and the choir of the local church Sornaisten…


His first taste of notoriety occurred at a masked ball where, dressed as a clown, he sang “Orchids to My Lady”; the response from the audience was enthusiastic…he soon won a contest singing three songs including “La Cumparsita”…basically self taught, he dreamt of singing opera like his idol Beniamino Gigli…his first break came in 1937 when he was recruited by Harold Rainbow Orchestra; he recorded for the first time the following year…in 1939 he starred his first film “Rich Girl”…begining in 1940 his career would explode with performances, films, theatrical productions to a degree that went beyond his dreams; he was called a “living legend”…but it was also a time when his drinking began to increase…he met Dorthy Irene Kaarela with whom he would marry and have three children but his worsening alcoholism took its toll and after fifteen years of marriage she left him…he was known for his beloved Ford Fairlane which he drove fast while swigging his bottle of whiskey…Olavi Virta’s career was cut short by a scandalous arrest for drunken driving in 1962, it was continuously talked about in the press which mockingly called him “The Singing Meatball.”; he never really recovered from it.