5 Responses to “Aunt Carmela”

  1. Mark Blackwell

    apparently, the “aunt carmela” on the cover of this record is actually a guy named “paulie ‘teardrop’ ciaurella” of the group “the teardrops,” a band which appears on this record. evidently paulie teardrop did well with his “aunt carmela” character, as “her” image was once featured on a half-million six packs of soda as a promotion for this album.

    as of a couple years ago, paulie teardrop was still performing regularly at an italian restaurant at caesars in atlantic city. here’s an interesting story i found on him (the actual url with a recent photo of him is http://www.shorenewstoday.com/columns/music-first.htm -scroll down to the second story on the page) :

    Living legend Paulie Teardrop strolls Caesars
    (Music First with Jennifer Scott)
    February 18, 2008

    Paulie Teardrop, named the “Toast of Atlantic City” by radio host Joe Ranielli, has been performing in Atlantic City for years, a real legend right here in our own back yard. His storied career makes him one of the last of his kind.

    Paulie “Teardrop” Ciaurella, and his brother, Tony, started making music in the early 1950s as the Teardrops. Born in East Harlem, they would pack up their instruments, and take their show on the road.
    “I was about 15 and my brother Tony and I would take the train to Orchard Beach,” Paulie said. “I played guitar and Tony played accordion and we’d both sing and play until the police kicked us off the beach. Somehow it caused a commotion that they were not used to, but we loved it.”

    The Teardrops became known for their Italian songs and show, unique to the era. From opening at New York’s Copacabana Club in 1953, to Las Vegas and ultimately Atlantic City, The Teardrops were a fixture. They recorded “Aunt Carmella’s Italian Favorites” for RCA and Laurie Records in 1961 and the rest, as they say, is history.

    “Till” became a hit and the album was RCA’s top selling ethnic album that year. One million copies later, a gold record was presented to The Teardrops. The album is a mix of Italian songs and a little bit of comedy thrown in. Paulie’s “character,” Aunt Carmella, showed up on 500,000 Manhattan Soda six packs hawking the album. It had a tear off mail in coupon with a special “Manhattan Soda” discount, all for $5.98, areal 1960’s celebrity sponsorship.

    Soon after, another album with Aunt Carmella, a.k.a. Paulie Teardrop, was recorded, “More Italian Favorites,” and the success continued. More high profile gigs and shows, over 20 albums, two Rolls Royces, pink Cadillacs, celebrity romances and the years pass in a whirlwind of lights and action.

    Many things are evident as you walk into Paulie Teardrop’s home. The gold record for the Teardrop’s song “Till” is displayed proudly, along with “collectors” gold records by Elvis Presley, Tony Orlando, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra. There are posters and programs with the Teardrops and other headliners. Autographed baseballs, vinyl records, videocassettes and books abound. There are walls of photos, many of them signed, by every known entertainer from the 1950s through the present, people and celebrities that The Teardrops shared the stage with or just came to enjoy their legendary show. All stars on the rise, all posing with their friends The Teardrops, Paulie and Tony. Sammy Davis Jr., Jimmy Durante, Red Buttons, Johnny Carson, Connie Francis, Tony Bennet, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Dinah Washington, and so many more.

    Paulie has an amazing memory for dates and many stories to go with the pictures.

    “One of the proudest days of my life was on September 23, 1983 when I sang the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium,” he says as he points out a picture of two very young Yankees, Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin, at the Copa with their friends The Teardrops.

    The stories include one about the Beatles,

    “In 1963 while touring the Guild Company guitar shop, Paul McCartney saw the personalized ‘Paul’ rod cover on my guitar that was being built by Carolo Greco,” says Paulie. “He had to have it. So Carolo took it out and gave it to him. I got another, but I share more than a name with Mr. McCartney.”

    The mate to that guitar, constructed of tiger spruce with inlaid ebony and pearl “teardrops” now resides in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. A recognized national treasure, the guitar is named “The Teardrop.”

    Sadly, Tony passed away in the early 1980s, but Paulie Teardrop carried on.

    “I moved to Atlantic City on June 13, 1984 to perform at Primavera Restaurant with Peter “Fingers” Girardi on accordion. I’ve been in Atlantic City ever since,” Paulie said. “I’ve been through all the changes, all the ups and downs. I had an offer in the 1990s to move to Las Vegas for double my salary, but Atlantic City is home. I couldn’t leave.”

    Paulie Teardrop is the one of the last strolling musicians performing anywhere, certainly the last in Atlantic City. You can see this living legend as he strolls through Primavera in Caesars Casino singing and playing his Italian songs every Saturday night at from 7-11 p.m.

    “I’ve performed every single New Year’s Eve for the last 58 years,” he says.

    Truly, a legend.

    Primavera Restaurant is located inside Caesars Casino, 2100 Pacific Ave., in Atlantic City. Call 800-223-7277 for more information.