Russ Columbo was known as an American singer, violinist, and actor, most famous for his signature tune, "You Call It Madness, But I Call It Love," his compositions "Prisoner of Love" and "Too Beautiful For Words," and the legend surrounding his early death. In motion pictures, he first appeared in a Vitaphone short as a member of Gus Arnheim and His Orchestra. Some of his later films included Woman to Woman with Betty Compton, Wolf Song with Lupe Valez, and The Texan with Gary Cooper.
He also ran a nightclub, The Club Pyramid, but left to pursue a recording contract with RCA Victor records, soon gaining a tremendous popularity with legions of mostly female fans. Not long after arriving in New York, Columbo met actress Dorothy Dell at an audition for the Ziegfeld Follies and began seeing her. His later romances with Greta Garbo and Pola Negri were widely reported.
This richly researched and illustrated biography traces his remarkable career and the many songs he composed that were recorded by artists, such as Fats Waller, Tab Hunter, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Perry Como, and The Ink Spots. The author also explores the peculiar circumstances surrounding his death on September 2, 1934, when he was shot by his longtime friend, photographer Lansing Brown.