Frank J. Manzella, an artist and entertainer who performed under the name Frankie Mann, died unexpectedly Monday in his Amherst home. He was 84.
Born in South Buffalo, Mr. Manzella demonstrated his talents as an artist and a singer at a very young age.
“His kindergarten teacher told him he didn't have to take a nap if he wanted to draw because he was so good,” his daughter Rossana “Rusty” Droz said.
She added that he also began singing as a boy when he was shining shoes in taverns, then was invited to sing with bands.
He graduated from Hutchinson-Central High School and served in the Army with the occupation forces in Japan.
Returning from service, he found work as a commercial artist but was unhappy with the deadline pressures. Instead, he went to work for American Standard as an assembler, retiring in 1990.
Mr. Manzella continued his artistic pursuits as a painter, creating hundreds of oil paintings, watercolors and pastels, many of them depicting wildlife.
His action portraits of Buffalo Bills and Sabres players in the 1970s were exhibited in Eastern Hills Mall. His paintings of military aircraft are on display in the Niagara Aerospace Museum. A member of the Williamsville Art Society, he had paintings in numerous art shows and galleries.
As Frankie Mann, a stand-up bassist and singer in the style of Frank Sinatra, he appeared with trios and big bands in cocktail lounges and supper clubs throughout the Buffalo area and in Southern Ontario for more than five decades.
He was a regular performer for many years at the Big Apple Supper Club in Cheektowaga and Salvatore's Italian Gardens in Lancaster.
His wife of 56 years, Rose M. Marfoglia Manzella, died in 2011.
Survivors include another daughter, Anna Schibler.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, 200 St. Gregory Court at Maple Road, Amherst.