He was born in Gary, Indiana and began singing in his church choir as a child. While he was in the US Navy during World War II, he sang in the Blue Jacket Choir. He studied music at Columbia University and with Elsa Seyfert in Konstanz, Germany.
He made his debut in 1950 with the Central City Opera in New York as Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème. He sang minor roles at the Metropolitan Opera from 1953 to 1957, while he was still a student. In 1957, he moved to Europe and made his debut at the Vienna State Opera. He had great success with the Zürich Opera.
Otello was one of his signature roles. Starting in 1963, he became one of the Met's principal Heldentenors.
He was married to the soprano Sandra Warfield, with whom he performed Saint-Saens' Samson and Delilah at the Met. He returned to the Met only weeks before his death at the age of 61.
JamesMcCracken, the man behind the story, was a human-interest writer for ReaderÂ’s Digest and originally published condensed accounts of his sailing adventures in that publication under the title "Mr.
McCrackenÂ’s family was originally from White Plains, N.Y., but after summering in Mere Point, a peninsula off Casco Bay, her mother and father became obsessed with the ocean, and seemed to spend most of their time aboard a wooden sailboat.
McCracken said her parents spent most of their time that summer practicing capsizing the boat, while the Rileys watched carefully and often came to their rescue, dishing them out of the water.
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