Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

American Baritone Richard Bonelli

The legendary baritone opera star Richard Bonelli was born George Richard Bunn at Port Byron, NY on Feb. 2, 1889, son of Martin & Ida Bunn. The family would later move to Syracuse, NY where George would soon prefer to be called Richard. The following biography mentions the late Penny Helzer, my predecessor as historian for the village of Port Byron. Here is a wonderful biography of Richard:

Biography of Richard Bonelli by Charles A Hooey

Prior to entering into a singing career, Bonelli was a close friend of David Abbot Jenkins, the father of salt racing:

David Abbot Jenkin & Bonelli

Richard Bonelli received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Music from Syracuse University in 1937. In 1965 he received the American Guild of Musical Artists Merit Award(AGMA).

He also was a movie actor, having a supporting role in the 1935 film "Enter Madame" staring Elissa Landi and Cary Grant:

Enter Madame 1935

He appeared as himself in the 1941 film "There's Magic in Music" staring Allan Jones and Margaret Lindsay:

There's Magic in Music 1941

Richard was twice married, 1st to Pauline Cornelys and 2nd to Mona Chapman Wood. Through the union with his second wife, Richard was the Uncle of actor Robert Stack, star of the television series "The Untouchables" and Host of "Unsolved Mysteries":

Robert Stack Biography

Obituary of Mona Chapman Wood Bonelli

Guide to the Richard Bonelli Collection

Richard Bonelli debuted in Italy as Riccardo Bonelli, making him an international star. He holds two other significant records, being amoung the performances on the day that Opera was first broadcasted by radio on January 13, 1910 and performed on the first TV broadcast of Opera on 3/10/1940:

Radio Broadcast History-1910

First TV Opera Performance 1940

Richard Bonelli died at Los Angeles, California on June 7, 1980. His cremated remains were placed in Niche 32072, Columbarium of Victory, Freedom Mausoleum, in Forest Lawn Glendale, in Los Angeles County, his wife's cremated remains were placed on March 20, 1998.

His parents are buried at Port Byron, NY.