Born Arnold George Dorsey, in Leicester, England, May 1, 1936; married wife Patricia in 1964; children: Louise, Jason, Scott, Bradley. Military service: British Armed Forces, 1954-56. Addresses: Office--Engelbert Humperdinck Headquarters, Attention: Louise Dorsey, P.O. Box 5734, Beverly Hills, CA 90209-5734.

Maintaining a multiple-decade career as a singer is not an easy task. Remaining a sex symbol for that duration is even harder, yet that is precisely the achievement of England's balladeer Engelbert Humperdinck. Knighted "The King of Romance" by fans and the popular music press, Humperdinck has sold an average of five million records a year since the mid-1960s and has established himself as one of the world's premiere live performers in a number of sold-out tours. However, it has not been Humperdinck's bronze- skinned good looks alone that have caused the attraction but a truly remarkable voice capable of spanning three-and-a-half octaves. Tempering talent and devotion with a humble, genteel persona, Humperdinck has become a veritable institution of the entertainment industry.

The early years of Humperdinck's life are unremarkable and sometimes have been embellished by zealous publicity agents. Born Arnold George Dorsey in Leicester, England, on May 1, 1936, Humperdinck grew up with ten brothers and sisters in a working- class family. His dabblings in music began at age 11, when he took up playing the saxophone. Although amateur attempts at singing soon followed, Humperdinck did not commit himself to music until after he had served two years in the British armed forces, stationed in Germany during the mid-1950s. Upon his return to England, Humperdinck soon found himself singing publicly for the first time. His first break came in 1958, when he was tapped by a talent agent who had seen Humperdinck perform in a local talent contest. Impressed by the vocal precision of a singer lacking formal training, the agent managed to cut a deal with Decca Records. A year later, Humperdinck released his first single, "Crazy Bells," under the name Gerry Dorsey.

However, a record deal does not ensure success, and the sporadic Gerry Dorsey records made for Decca would only be a footnote in Humperdinck's career. The singer continued along the British club circuit with only moderate recognition until he was adopted by manager Gordon Mills. Mills, who later helped Welsh singer Tom Jones achieve fame, became Humperdinck's mentor, creating the suave image that the singer retained throughout his career. Rather than marketing his protege as a teen pin-up, Mills opted to focus upon Humperdinck's "gentlemanly" personality. It was then that Humperdinck dropped the name Gerry Dorsey to step into the name of a 19th century German opera composer. With a new image of charm and an association with high culture, Humperdinck was soon to take off.

In 1967, in a turn of events seemingly taken from a musical or film melodrama, Humperdinck was contacted to be a last minute replacement on the popular variety show Saturday Night at the London Palladium when its scheduled star, Dickie Valentine, fell ill. Humperdinck performed "Release Me," a single that had just been released on Parrot Records, and the result was almost instant stardom for the singer. The song quickly hit the number one slot on the British music charts, and this success reflected on the U.S. music charts as well. At its peak, the "Release Me" single sold an unprecedented 85,000 copies daily, but moreover, the slow, powerful ballad became Humperdinck's signature tune, and a staple among adult vocals fans.

Almost immediately, Humperdinck began to amass legions of devoted fans, most of them female. On these grounds, coupled with the fact that most of Humperdinck's recordings are love songs, some critics immediately dismissed the singer as a mere "crooner." While Humperdinck cannot be said to have made significant musical innovations, the freshness, energy, and range of Humperdinck's delivery set him apart from other show business Romeos. As Humperdinck told the Hollywood Reporter's Rick Sherwood, "if you are not a crooner it's something you don't want to be called. No crooner has the range I have--I can hit notes a bank couldn't cash. What I am is a contemporary singer, a stylized performer."

Throughout the rest of the 1960s and into the 1970s, Humperdinck continued to produce million-selling albums of love songs on the Parrot label, and developed increasingly more extravagant stage shows, sometimes over one hundred per year. While the mood of Top 40 radio quickly changed, Humperdinck's music, more akin to Broadway show tunes than post-Beatles rock, did not. Subsequently, Humperdinck's live performances became more crucial in reaching his fans, and the singer responded by producing lavish, energetic extravaganzas that set the standards for Las Vegas-style glamour. "I don't like to give people what they have already seen," Humperdinck was quoted as saying in a 1992 tourbook. "I take the job description of 'entertainer' very seriously! I try to bring a sparkle that people don't expect and I get the biggest kick from hearing someone say 'I had no idea you could do that!'"

By the late 1960s, Engelbert Humperdinck fan clubs had begun to sprout, first in England, later around the globe. By the next decade, the fan mania had grown to giant proportions, reportedly the largest such club in the world, with chapters including "Our World is Engelbert," "Engelbert...We Believe in You," and "Love is All for Enge." While an occasional fan ventured into the realm of obsession--several fanatics claimed to have been pregnant with the singer's offspring--Humperdinck's following of a reported eight million members guaranteed record sales with limited radio air play. "They are very loyal to me and very militant as far as my reputation is concerned," Humperdinck said of his devotees to Sherwood. "I call them the spark plugs of my success."

The release of the album After the Lovin' in 1976 was a relative watermark in Humperdinck's career. For one thing, it was the first record Humperdinck made for the Epic label, after almost a decade with Parrot. In addition, the album received a nomination for a Grammy Award, the first major nod Humperdinck had received from critical corners. Perhaps part of the reason behind Humperdinck's critical neglect stemmed from his lack of involvement with the recording of albums, whereas he had so much control over live presentation. Until the late 1980s, Humperdinck had little say in which songs were selected for each album, a fact that might have supported claims that he was little more than a pawn of his label's executives. Over the years, this arrangement slowly changed, giving Humperdinck full creative freedom. Humperdinck's albums began to cover more musical terrain than ballads alone.

By the 1980s, Humperdinck was fast approaching his fifth decade of life, yet he was still producing albums regularly, performing sometimes more than 200 concerts in a year, and he was still a source of attraction for his female fans. Despite all this, Humperdinck had managed to maintain a solid family life with his wife, Patricia. Perhaps a mixture of business and pleasure had contributed to this success: Humperdinck's four children are involved in their father's career in some way. A truly jet-set family, the Humperdinck/Dorsey clan shuttled between homes in England and Beverly Hills, California, where Humperdinck had purchased the Pink Palace, a lush mansion once owned by film star Jayne Mansfield.

Humperdinck had reached the point in his career where he had transcended stardom to become a legend. In 1989, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, as well as a Golden Globe Award for Entertainer of the Year. He had met the queen of England and several American presidents. Still, he retained his element of humanism, and began major involvement in charity foundations. In addition to involvement with The Leukemia Research Fund, the American Red Cross, and the American Lung Association, Humperdinck contributed to several AIDS relief organizations. For one of these, Reach Out, Humperdinck even penned and performed an anthem for the organization's mission, called "Reach Out." As longtime friend Clifford Elson said of Humperdinck, "[h]e's a gentleman in a business that's not full of many gentlemen."

In 1992, the singer launched a gala world tour to commemorate 25 years of performing as Engelbert Humperdinck. The tour showcased a career's worth of middle-of-the-road favorites, as well as songs from a special anniversary album recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Polydor Records. Like most of Humperdinck's tours, the anniversary was almost completely sold out. By the time his 1996 record After Dark hit the stores, Humperdinck had sold 130 million records, including 23 platinum and 64 gold releases, and he showed no signs of decreasing his output. "The last twenty-five years have been an adventure, a story without a script," Humperdinck told fans in his anniversary tourbook. "I never knew what was coming next but it's been a wonderful journey. I hope the chapters of my life to follow allow me to continue to keep giving back all the love and respect that I have been given."

by Shaun Frentner

Engelbert Humperdinck's Career

Recorded first record, "Crazy Bells," in 1959 for Decca, under the name Gerry Dorsey; made debut as Engelbert Humperdinck on Saturday Night at the London Palladium in 1967; awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in 1989.

Engelbert Humperdinck's Awards

Golden Globe Award, Entertainer of the Year, 1989.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Periodicals

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

about 5 years ago

I will be 80 in July, and I have been a fan since 1967, and since living in Fl, I have been to the concerts in Ft. Lauderdale, and Melbourne. You . picked me to come up on stage with you 2 yrs ago, and someone got up there before me, my daughter was with me, and saw how sad I was, as I've been a fan that long. I have a recording of you on a christmas cd, and I have in my will for her to have you sing The Lord's Prayer at my funeral.Thanks for all the music you've given me in my lifetime

about 5 years ago

i really love him and his fabulous voice eversince i heard his "release me". from the beginning of my marriage, my husband would buy me as birthday gift, his concert records. everytime a new concert video is released, he would buy one for me for he knows i'll be happy with it. i saw one of his concert in hongkong. engelbert's music really brings joy to me until this time.

over 5 years ago

WE SAW YOUR SHOW AT CASINO ARIZONA AND YOU WERE JUST WONDERFUL. YOUR VOICE NEVER CHANGES. THE FIRST TIME WE SAW YOU WAS IN LAS VEGAS ABOUT 38YRS AGO. WE ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR MUSIC AND WE JUST LOVE IT. P.S. THE SHOW WAS APRIL 22 OF THIS YEAR. OUR BEST TO YOU ALWAYS.

over 5 years ago

Just attended your show at the Pala Casino on January 20th. You are amazing, a great show with a lot of energy and your voice is fabulous, It was a wonderful performance and I thoroughly enjoyed you.

over 6 years ago

Engelbert brings joys to our hearts. As young as I was, when I went to see him with my husband, he called me on stage when I called his name Humpy, this was at lake Tahoe about in 1972. I was very shy but he sang the song Sugar Sugar, Honey Honey to me and gave me a big kiss, it made my evening. My daughter and Mother who was visiting me from Holland also joined me at a later time when he was performing at the Sahara in Tahoe again. Ever since that time my daughter and I play his music whenver we can and especially when we feel a little down. and whenever we feel a little down, his music brings joy to our hearts for many years. He made sacrifices to not be with his family all the time, but he remainded loyal and brought a lot of pleasure to millions of people, including me Thank you Humpy, even at 68 years old I still enjoy your music so much!!!!!!! Sincerely, Helena Johanna Krastman Blair from Bend, Oregon USA

over 6 years ago

OMG.....I actually love Englebert more than I do my husband...lol...Hes the type of entertainer that makes you feel that he is personally singing to you...I have him on a vhs tape that I bought in 1986ish it still play just as clear it did the day I purchased it.....I get dressed for work listening to him.....I go to bed listening to him....I think that he is the sexiest performer Alive..

almost 7 years ago

On October 15/10 I saw Englebert at Ceasar's in Windsor Ontario. His show was FANTASTIC, the singing brought back a lot of memories and his jokes had great humour in them.He has a marvelous voice for his age, so just keep it up. I will go back to see his show again, when he comes back to Canada. KEEP SMILING AND SINGING

almost 7 years ago

Hi Englebert! I just returned from Caesars Windsor Hotel/Casino in Windsor, Canada! I live across the border in Michigan. YOU WERE SPECTACULAR! I am an 'American Army Brat' growing up in Italy, once in a while I would hear your songs, and at that time between you, Tom Jones and The Beatles...well, I was a teenager too...so much wonderful music I'm 63, (but don't look any older that 45). This is the truth! Lucky me! :) At your concert in Windsor...YOU melted my heart, and I tried to keep my emotions under control...listening to your wonderful romantic voice and words! It was a SOLD OUT event, and the two kleenex tissues I brought with me were not enough! YOU ARE SO BLESSED! I hope you are aware of this. Even at this young 74th year, YOU have not changed a bit when it comes to your voice! To be a bit daring, you look fantastic! More power to YOU, Englebert! You've given back so much to the song world of fans! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!THANK YOU SO MUCH! Your family is blessed and so is the rest of the world...when they listen to your voice!

almost 7 years ago

I fist met Englebert in 1943, of course he was Gerry Dorsey then, I was 8 yrs old and he was 7yrs old, in fact his oldest sister Olga married my Mum's younger brother Barney, we were flower girls to their wedding,(my sister Christine, my cousin Shirley, his sister Peggy and myself.) I have a lot of fond memories of our childhood, who would of thought at that time he would become the artist that he is. I love his rendition of "We'll Meet Again".

almost 7 years ago

I fell in love with Englebert and his music at his concert in Columbia, SC, USA, in the late 70's. I was one of the lucky ones who got to go back stage and meet him before the show and he autographed his album for me. He was so nice, said he had a sister named Peggy. He was fantasic. I have followed his career and play his music almost every single day. He is without doubt the King of Romance. Plan to see him on March 19, 2011 in Myrtle Beach, SC, USA at his next concert. Go Engle! You still have that wonderful sexy appeal. Love You.

about 7 years ago

I have loved your songs ever since, I was really so happy to have gone to your concert & seen you at The Arena Of Stars, Genting Malaysia. I was singing your songs the whole night. It was a beautiful experience . I shall go loving you & your songs always . I especially like Sweetheart & After the loving, really dreamy .

about 7 years ago

I grew up with your love songs , today i'm 56and still in love with your songs, it help me a lot during my bad days , all i do is to listen to any of the song,i always get my strenght back , my children knows how helpful your songs is to me.so lovely to see you in australia these days.

about 7 years ago

I am totally into the music of Englebert. I can't tell you how many concerts I have attended and will continue to attend. Going to Foxwoods this weekend to see him perform in the MGM Grand. He is over the top, off the charts, and one of the most brilliant singers of our times. Counting the days to hear you sing again. One of my favorite songs is Too Young. I have never heard anyone come slightly close to his wonderful performance.

over 7 years ago

IJust love you and every year;s see you Casino Rama . Please send too me nice photo i am hungarian love you tHANK YOU MARIA

over 7 years ago

I just saw him at the Trump Plaza showroom in Atlantic City, NJ. He is still looking and sounding remarkable. I love him. Any local fanclubs???

over 7 years ago

I know Engelbert since childhood (35yrs ago), because our parents loved his voice so much. Even now I still love Engelbert. Especially if I remember when Engelbert youngage.... he look handsome & attractive. Success always for you Engelbert, from your fans in Indonesia. God bless Engelbert and his loving family!

almost 8 years ago

When I was a teenager in late 50's early 60's there was only one singer for me and that was Johnny Mathis. As far as I was concerned no one would ever take his place. BUT I did not listen to Engelbert until early 80's as I was busy raising my sons. When I saw him on video Live from Las Vegas, I was hooked. I have been lucky enough to of met him and he is the most caring person I have met and sincere. Next time hes appearing near you go see a show and even at 73 he can out perform the young ones out there in todays world.

about 8 years ago

Engelbert-has the greatest voice I have ever heard, just saw him In Biloxi at the Beau Rivage and he's still awesome as ever. The guy gets better and better If thats possible.... and better In looks every time I see him.......

about 8 years ago

i am from MADRAS, South India, and i am very very happy and glad to know that respected Mr Engelbert was born in our country. I am his great fan and i listen to his songs even now. OLD IS GOLD ALWAYS. May OUR LORD JESUS bless him and his wonderful family peace, love, unity, goodhealth. ILL THE BEST SIR.

about 8 years ago

I am blessed to have watched and listened to Enge's DVD concert held at Palladium in England and his voice is soooo amazing and his singing is awesome and so captivating! I am praying to watch him in person in a concert one day. I read his biography and he has my respect because of his good family background. I love his songs and I adore his personality, his love for his family and his passion in singing. I am still in my late thirties but wow! it's like i was born on the in the 30's too because i appreciate and love Enge's songs and him unlike my others who are at my age range. God bless Engelbert and his loving family!

about 8 years ago

Correction to your above biography - Enge's birthday is May 2nd not May 1st.

about 8 years ago

Enjoyed your Biography on Engelbert, although there are a few incorrect statements. He was not born in Leicester, England, he was born in 1936, the date was May 2nd ( not the 1st as you state ) and the place of birth was then called Madras, India. The article could use an update, as Enge is still recording, still touring around the world, to standing room only crowds, covering three or more generations. He has been honored many times over, for all his time put into various Charitable causes, and just celebrated his 73rd birthday. His fan clubs are just as active as always, and his family is also into the third generation ~ with three grandsons and one beautiful little grand-daughter. There are no plans as to his retirement, and a couple of new CD's are being released shortly. Thank you for the article, and for the opportunity to add my comments.

over 8 years ago

Englebert Humperdinck is an exceptional entertainer. His voice is unique and when singing can change the mood of an audience immediatley. Although nothing is forever, I hope he entertains for a long time yet.

over 8 years ago

Oh, GOD bless you Mr Engelbert Humperdinck the way your voice and songs brings joy into the heart of millions when they wake up sad in the mornings.I have being looking for a way to spoke on what your song does to my heart everything I put on your music.God bless you and your family.

over 8 years ago

Like many others, I first heard Enge, singing Release Me, on the radio in the 60's. First chance I had, bought tickets to see him in person, joined a fan club, got to know this one of a kind performer, a shy, humble human being. A wonderful family man, great sense of humor, talented in so many areas, and eventually started my own fan club for him. When he sings a song, whether a brand new release, or a cover of another popular recording, the song becomes his own, as he has a way with words, giving any song a new life. We just celebrated our 35th Anniversary as an active fan club, and look forward to many more years of sheer pleasure and enjoyment. I am so thankful for that day I first heard him singing on the radio.

over 8 years ago

Englebert, I saw you perform in Vegas in the mid 1970's and was one of the lucky ones who got up on stage with you. You are a great performer and really know how to make the ladies swoon. Hope I get to see you sing again soon. All the best!!

over 8 years ago

Hi. i just wanted to correct this biography slightly. he certainly did not grow up in a working class enviroment. His father was a well to-do engineer in the british army. middle class at least. This particularly upsets my grandmother (his sister). please can you revise this? thank you

over 8 years ago

I have never had the privilege of attending one of your concerts, but have always been an avid admirer of you and your beautiful voice. You make my world seem beautiful when I listen to you sing. You are one of the world's greatest singers. Thank you.

over 8 years ago

I was at the UCF Arena last night and Engelbert you were fantastic.Keep up the great work and Good luck..

over 8 years ago

This may interest anyone who is a fan of the former 'Gerry Dorsey', prior to changing his name to 'Engelbert Humperdinck'. My brother-in-law Terry Williams, has just celebrated his 50th Birthday and the family had arranged a surprise party for him at The Hen Lane Club in Holbrooks, Coventry, England. Terry's father Dai Williams, was the Entertainment Secretary for this mainly Welsh mining community club for many years, until he passed away in 2006. As a reminder of Terry's 50th Birthday, we had collected many photographs of him as a baby and child growing up and we had displayed them for all his family and friends to see. Terry has just phoned me to tell me that on the rear of one of the photo's of him as a child, there is a signature which is signed, 'Gerry Dorsey'. Terry remembered his father Dai, telling him that 'Engelbert Humperdink' had sung at The Hen Lane Club before he became famous and Terry recognised the name 'Dorsey' as possibly being Engelbert's signature before he became famous. Hence the reason I checked out the signature 'Gerry Dorsey' to confirm this and found this website. It may also interest others to know that 'Vince Hill', another great singer, also sang at the club before he became famous and in fact his brother Jack Hill, still uses it today!

over 8 years ago

He has one of the most beautiful voice in the world!!!!!

over 8 years ago

I JUST LOVE YOU ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK !

almost 9 years ago

Hi Engelbert! I have attended several of your concerts; most recently in Coquitlam,B.C. Even after 30 years of listening to you - "you light up my life" everytime I hear you sing. Whenever I am down; I can listen to your music and it puts me at peace. Keep up the good work and see you on your next tour. You are the greatest!

almost 9 years ago

Hi Engelbert! My son and I attended your concert at Caesar's in Windsor the other night and it was great!!! I also saw you in concert a couple of years ago at The Chrysler Centre in Windsor and before that I travelled to London, Ontario to see you perform at the Labatt's Centre. Hope you keep performing for a good many years...I believe I have most of your cd's and DVD's and I even have a 33-1/3 rpm record that I bought from someone in Japan..I can't play it, but the cover is in Japanese. Take care! Hope I get to see you in another concert.

almost 9 years ago

Hi Englebert I am originally from india , following your music ever since i was little girl , and love all your ballads. Attended your concert last night at the Ceasars in windsor ontario, you still look gorgeous and havent lost that touch ,amazed at your voice quality too. keep up the good work , hope to see you again soon sincerely Shakuntala

almost 9 years ago

Enge If you had it to do again would you sacrifice your family for fame? thank you Joy Johnson

almost 9 years ago

I work with your brother Irwin in Las Vegas, and he is a pure joy to be around. I am grateful you were there for him during his brain surgeries.....you were there for him and Faye. Love your music. You, Johnnie Mathis, and Karen Carpenter are about the best there ever was in American music !!

about 9 years ago

I would venture to say that Engelbert is one of the best singers that has ever lived. We went to his concert at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1982 with my sister and brother and was floored by this one of a kind singer and have been a fan ever since.

over 9 years ago

Your music has brought me so much enjoyment since I was a teen-ager back in the 70's. I loved you then and I still love listening to you now. Listening to you makes my work go so much more smoother and driving more fun. My kids grew up with you and think you are pretty good. I just got your Gold cd and love it. Saw you at the Hostfest when you came to North Dakota. Highlight for me. My husband is just as much of a fan.

over 9 years ago

One seem to forget that Humperdinck had already a great deal of succes in Belgium in the second half of 1966

over 9 years ago

I have emjoyed your music for quite a while now and have quite a few of your albums. I saw you in 1977 in Chicago. I just bought your latest CD, and I really like it. Kepp up the good singing. The best of luck to you and your family.