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Fred Travalena, Impressionist and Comedian, Dies at 66
Known as 'The Man of a Thousand Faces,' Travalena had a repertoire of over 360 celebrity voices including Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, and Bugs Bunny. He was well known for his striking physical and vocal impersonations of U.S presidents such as John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush. Frank Sinatra himself once said, "If you like me, go see Fred Travalena. He does me great." In the 1970s Travalena was a regular guest on the popular shows Fantasy Island and The Love Boat. He was a headliner in Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City, and starred in his own specials such as The Many Faces of Fred Travalena and Comedy in the Oval Office. As a young adult, Travalena performed in the Army's Special Services and won the All-Army Entertainment Award for best singer.
Travalena was born of Italian and Irish heritage on Oct. 6, 1942 in the Bronx, N.Y. and grew up on Long Island. Following in the footsteps of his father, who was also an entertainer, Travalena did impressions of the popular singer Johnny Ray at church shows. At school, Travalena used his comedic talent to divert teachers' requests for his homework by making them laugh and he would deal with bullies by using a Porky Pig accent.
He was often a guest on talk shows such as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Live with Regis & Kathy Lee, and Late Night with David Letterman. Recently he had channeled his talent into singing and songwriting, releasing CDs including We All Need Love Today, a 1998 collection of love songs which hew rote, and The Spirit of America, a patriotic CD written after 9/11. Travalena, who was involved and dedicated to USO (United Service Organization), had recently entertained troops at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna and was asked to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. In 2005, the performer received a gold star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He is survived by his wife, Lois, sons Fred IV and Cory, and granddaughter, Sophia. Travalena's funeral service will be private; a public memorial service is being planned.
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