Canadian singer Bobby Curtola has died whereas visiting Edmonton

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Don Clarke had planned to spend Sunday afternoon throwing dinner for his longtime friend, pop singer Bobby Curtola.

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Janet French Bobby Curtola, left, with longtime friend and business partner Don Clarke, shown in 1999. Curtola, a young heartthrob, died in Edmonton on Saturday at the age of 73. Bobby Curtola, left, with longtime friend and business partner Don Clarke, shown in 1999. Curtola, a young heartthrob, died in Edmonton on Saturday at the age of 73. Photo by Larry Wong /Edmonton

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Don Clarke had planned to spend Sunday afternoon throwing dinner for his longtime friend, singer Bobby Curtola.

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Instead, Clarke mourned the business partner he met 46 years ago when he fell the singer off a stage in Edmonton.

“When he sang, he gave everything. You know why? He enjoyed it. He’s been enjoying the people’s reaction, ”said Clarke, 83.

Curtola, a 1960s heartthrob and longtime Edmonton resident, died Saturday while visiting Edmonton, Clarke said. He was 73 years old. The cause of death was initially unknown.

Curtola’s son Chris posted the message on Sunday afternoon on Facebook.

“To his fans … he loved each of you more than you will know, and he never took the life you gave him for granted. He wants you to do something good for one another today and every day, ”wrote Chris.

Curtola was born in Thunder Bay and was discovered during a radio station singing contest in 1959, Clarke said. He played his first professional show in Winnipeg in 1960, and his hit Fortune Teller topped the charts in 1962.

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In 1964, Bobby Curtola was Pitchman for Coca-Cola, singing a version of Things Go Better with Coke In 1964, Bobby Curtola was Pitchman for Coca-Cola, singing a version of Things Go Better with Coke PR

In August 1965, screaming Curtola fans asking for an autograph in downtown Edmonton forced the singer’s managers to protect him in a passenger seat, where he slid the signed papers in and out through a partially open window.

The writer and performer of the 1964 advertisement claiming “Things Go Better With Coca-Cola” ended up grossing 25 Canadian gold singles and 12 Canadian gold albums.

It was at a concert at the Macdonald Hotel in 1970 that ex-Canadian Football League player Clarke caught Curtola accidentally falling back off the stage during a performance of When the Saints Go Marching In.

“He never stopped singing,” said Clarke as he described lifting the singer and microphone back up.

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After the show, Curtola looked for the man who would come to his aid. It was the beginning of a four-decade friendship that would lead to countless fundraising campaigns, business partnerships and good times.

Curtola, who opened for Bob Hope and performed in Las Vegas showrooms for years, settled in the Edmonton area in 1975 when his teenage idol days were over.

Curtola appeared regularly at Klondike Days and countless charity events, and composed an election jingle for his friend Ralph Klein when the then-mayor of Calgary made his first attempts at provincial politics.

The Order of Canada entrepreneur and award winner founded companies to buy a hotel and truck stops across Canada and made an unsuccessful bid to own the Ottawa Roughriders in 1991.

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In 1997, Curtola and Clarke attempted to include Mott’s clamato juice with a competing tomato drink called SeaCzar. They produced the drink in Edmonton for about three years before the business ran into trouble.

Curtola moved to Nova Scotia about a decade ago after falling in love with a woman there, Clarke said.

Curtola was living at his son’s home in Edmonton when he met with Clarke Thursday and Friday to plan future business ventures.

“We all talked like a bunch of old guys talking about tomorrow. Tomorrow didn’t come for Bobby, ”said Clarke.

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