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Posts Tagged ‘richard conte’

Within my family collection are various inscribed photos of famous (friends) people, written to my mother, Colleen Conte. Featured in this post is a photo from actor Dennis Cole and a photo of a Houdini movie poster and two books about and written by Tony Curtis, signed to Colleen. Also, among the items I’m offering on Etsy and Ebay is the actor Cornel Wilde’s Turquoise Bolo. Colleen had this bolo custom made by the Zuni tribe many years ago for Cornel. He wore it often as it became his trademark tie. Another one of a kind item is a Richard Conte signature block that he had made many decades ago. You can find detailed information about these items and people on their individual pages on Etsy and Ebay. My seller’s name on Etsy is KStone4U and my name on Ebay is Kris4Sale. The joy of memorabilia.

Dennis Cole and Colleen Conte

Dennis Cole and Colleen Conte

Tony Curtis and Colleen Conte

Tony Curtis and Colleen Conte

Cornel Wilde's Turquoise Bolo

Cornel Wilde’s Turquoise Bolo

Richard Conte's Signature Block

Richard Conte’s Signature Block

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I met Frank Sinatra in the late 1970’s. He and his wife had a few of us college kids come to a bedroom at a party to thank us for being in the vocal group that sang at his mother’s funeral service that year in January 1977. The party was a Christmas Season celebration at the house of the president of College Of The Desert, Palm Desert, CA. The vocal group was called The Ensemble, directed by Dr. John Norman, affectionately known as Doc. I just saw Doc at his house a few months ago. The Ensemble, an elite 16 member vocal group that you had to audition for to get into was asked to learn a few pieces of music including Hello Dolly within a couple days and perform them in a large church at Frank’s mother’s funeral. It was quite an experience. There were large men wearing long trench coats lining the inside of the back wall of the church. Frank looked like he was grieving deeply. We felt odd singing Hello Dolly, but learned that Frank usually sang this song for his mother, Natalie “Dolly” Sinatra at his concerts. Frank was great friends with my stepfather actor Richard Conte. I was so star struck when I met Frank (much to my surprise) that I didn’t even tell him of my relation to his late friend Richard, or Nicky as his friends called him. Here’s a collage of photos of Frank and Richard, some of which came from Richard’s personal collection.

Frank Sinatra and Richard Conte

Frank Sinatra and Richard Conte

 

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Richard Conte, my step-father was an artist in many respects including being a stylish colored crayon sketcher. In these unique and one of a kind instances pictured below, Richard created his own original art within the first blank pages of books about art published in the 1960’s. Unlike a framed work, you have to open the books to see the Richard Conte art work. This week I placed these vintage items for sale on Etsy.com in the collectibles category. The books also contain many beautiful illustrations.

Original Art by Richard Conte within the book, The Fauves

Original Art by Richard Conte within the book, The Fauves

Original Art by Richard Conte within the book, I, Michelangelo, Sculptor

Original Art by Richard Conte within the book, I, Michelangelo, Sculptor

Original Art by Richard Conte within the book, The Genius Of Leonardo Da Vinci

Original Art by Richard Conte within the book, The Genius Of Leonardo Da Vinci

 

 

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My whole life there has been one person, my best friend, my mother who has been there through it all. This month she made her transition and my life was changed in a second. I’ve been living with her in Cathedral City, CA for the past seven months being her caregiver since her pulmonary doctor told her she may only have about six months to go.

I’ll be posting more about her and showing many more photos of her fantastic life as well as building an obituary site that people can sign into and tell their personal story of how she touched their lives. From being a child music prodigy who rode and raced a horse named Raimee to being Miss California to being a mother to being Mrs. Richard Conte traveling Europe making movies…she lived many lifetimes in one and will be missed to the depths of our hearts.

A few years ago I interviewed her in my recording studio for hours/days and once again heard the stories I grew up hearing. From her early life’s stories I have written/completed the screenplay “My Raimee” about her as a ten year old girl on a farm in Kansas meeting one of the great love’s of her life, a high spirited horse that few could ride, but that she went all the way to the race track with. This story is now part of my mother’s legacy as are the hundreds and hundreds of photos and the memories of those she touched along the way.

Shirlee Colleen Conte

Shirlee Colleen Conte, AKA Shirlee Garner-Witty-Krieger-Conte

Shirlee Colleen Garner on Raimee

Shirlee Colleen Garner on Raimee

Shirlee Witty (Garner) MISS CALIFORNIA 1956

Shirlee Witty (Garner) MISS CALIFORNIA 1956

Colleen Conte and husband Richard Conte

Colleen Conte and husband Richard Conte

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Many years after my stepfather Richard Conte made his expansion (as I call it), another movie star entered my mother’s life, Mr. Cornel Wilde. Recently, I found two handwritten notes from Richard (Nicky) Conte to his wife Colleen (my mother) reminding her to be sure and get a certain movie poster to Cornel Wilde as a gift. Mom had always said that Richard knew his time was short and that he wanted her to hook up with Cornel. Cornel was a full package of talent – actor, writer, director, producer, soundtrack composer, fencing champion, artist, linguist, etc. I got to know Cornel pretty well. We all went to dinner and different events together. One event that stands out was the New Year’s Eve party at The Playboy Mansion. The theme of the party was lingerie, so most of the women and some of the men were dressed for bed time. It was quite a scene. Cornel and Colleen actually got married on a cruise ship in international waters, but then never had it officiated in the US, so she remained Mrs. Richard Conte. Years later, when Cornel made his expansion, at the time he was working on the sequel to his movie The Naked Prey from 1966. He gave me the script to read and was considering me as the soundtrack artist. I wrote a story based on his 1972 TV movie, Gargoyles before I met him. Cornel was a man of solid integrity and he sincerely loved my mother, Colleen. I sang an original song, Somebody Loves You at his funeral in 1989. Here’s to you my friend.

Cornel Wilde and Colleen Conte, photo by Kristopher Stone

Cornel Wilde and Colleen Conte at La Cage Aux Folles Restaurant in L.A. photo by Kristopher Stone

Cornel Wilde

Cornel Wilde

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If you’re over 60, you probably remember the famous actor Richard Conte. He was my mother’s third husband and she is now his widow. His friends knew him as Nicky from his given name Peter Nicholas Conte. I knew him as my step-father when I was in high school and we still feel his presence in our lives. He performed in 66 movies and 25 TV shows. His last American movie before shooting 20 some films in Europe was The Godfather. He was considered for the lead role that Brando ended up playing and was cast in the character of Don Emilio Barzini, the rival mob boss that was out to take Brando’s character down. His legacy lives on in what is called “film noir” (vintage films – primarily stylish Hollywood crime dramas) as his new following and presence online expands.

Richard Conte and wife Colleen

Richard Conte and Vittorio De Sica

Peter Nicholas Conte (Richard Conte)

Peter Nicholas Conte (young Richard Conte)

Peter Nicholas Conte (young Richard Conte)

Richard Conte Collage

Richard Conte Collage

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