Take a bow
One of Northern Nevada’s most memorable entertainers, Danny Marona, has announced his retirement from the stage. After 55 years of performing music and comedy, Marona’s final show will take place Feb. 18 at the Eldorado showroom, hosted by Tony Orlando.
“My father was an evangelist, and he taught me and my brothers to perform and preach,” Marona says. “He never wanted us to fear being in front of a crowd.”
By age 10, Marona had been preaching and playing piano on stage for five years. Before he turned 16, he played piano on popular TV shows like the Dinah Shore Show and Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. At 16, he scored his first paying job playing piano at a popular Southern California country club.
“By the time I turned 21, I had my own band and was playing club dates in the San Francisco area, like the Jack London Inn in Oakland and the Hyatt in Burlingame,” says Marona. “Tahoe and Reno clubs catered to the same audiences I entertained, so soon, the Nevada clubs were hiring us.”
After more than 50 years on stage, Marona will enter semi-retirement due to physical difficulties that limit his performance.
“I used to pace the stage like a caged tiger,” says Marona. “But now I have to limit how long I stand, and my fingers can’t play many chords.”
Despite the setback, Marona lives his life to the fullest. With no discernible rancor, he still enjoys all the memories of his many appearances on California and Northern Nevada stages.
“I had a great run, over 50 years doing what I wanted, making people feel good with humor and some phenomenal bands. I’m glad we recorded the albums of me at the keyboard, so I can enjoy them now.”
The lives of Marona and his wife, Sherry, revolved around a careful mixture of career and family.
“She’d pack up our three kids and fly up for the weekend, so we could spend my off hours as a family. Sherry allowed me to be the kite, but she’s always held the string.”
The late trumpeter Louis Prima and long-time friend Tony Orlando were powerful influences in Marona’s performance.
“Louie and Tony are prime examples of showmanship because they hit the stage with everything they had, and they stayed switched on until the show ended,” he says.
Orlando will emcee Marona’s last public show, but Marona’s stage work won’t exactly end there. At his home in Twin Falls, Idaho, he will teach drama and music at Twin Falls Senior High School. Marona also serves as chairman of the board for Southern Idaho Learning Center, which helps kids with learning disabilities, and with the Danny Marona Scholarship Fund for the Performing Arts.
If one measures greatness by a performer’s popularity, Danny Marona ranks among the best. When tickets for his farewell show went on sale, the Eldorado’s convention center sold out every seat in less than three hours.
Guitarist T. K. Kellman has played with the Danny Marona Show for more than 15 years. Kellman played on albums with luminaries Bobby Darin, Paul Anka and Roger Miller.
“Danny’s a consummate performer,” Kellman says. “He always works with his audience, and he’s got a quick wit. Sure, he’s irascible at times, but what great entertainer isn’t?”