Joseph J. Siracusa, who performed drums in bandleader Spike Jones’ Metropolis Slickers within the ’40s and ’50s earlier than embarking on an extended profession in Hollywood animation studios, died on Saturday, in keeping with his son Steve Siracusa.
He was 99 when he died on the Tarzana dwelling within the San Fernando Valley the place he’d resided since 1960. Having lived practically a century, Siracusa, whom everybody knew as Joe, really had an exquisite life.
Siracusa liked to share his experiences – and whenever you’d had as a lot enjoyable as he’d had, who wouldn’t?
A local of Cleveland, he liked making music from a really early age, enjoying in orchestras all through highschool and after till he was drafted into the Military throughout World Battle II.
His musical skills landed him in a navy dance band simply earlier than he was to ship abroad. “My drums saved my life!” Siracusa stated throughout a 2020 interview. He additionally turned an all-around performer in that band, he recalled.
“I took the mop, and I put it on my head like a wig,” he stated. “And when the singer began singing, I stated, ‘Oh Frankie, sing “Maintain Me, Child!”’ — that was when Frank Sinatra was well-liked and all the women would holler for him.”
After the struggle, he landed a job with Spike Jones and the Metropolis Slickers, which required not solely tight musicianship however the capacity to go along with Jones’ comedic circulation in exhibits throughout the nation. They even performed the White Home, the place Siracusa shook arms with President Harry S. Truman.
Siracusa was a pure not solely behind the drum package, but additionally at creating gags corresponding to a facsimile of his personal head, which he’d put on on his shoulder at instances, or a pair of eyeglasses one of many singers would put on that squirted faux tears on Jones because the singer carried out the usual “I Cried For You.”
Within the early ’50s, Siracusa left the Metropolis Slickers and the street to settle in Los Angeles along with his spouse Eleanor and a household that finally included 4 kids. He discovered work as an government in several animation studios, engaged on such well-known cartoon characters as Mr. Magoo, the Pink Panther, and Spider-Man.
In that chapter of his life, he met and befriended such luminaries as Theodore Geisel, higher generally known as Dr. Seuss, and Marvel maestro Stan Lee. He turned a member of the Movement Image Academy of Arts & Sciences, voting for the Oscars annually, too.
After his spouse died in 1997, Siracusa stayed energetic and entertaining. On Veteran’s Day, he’d generally go to the native grocery store the place the managers would let him play patriotic tunes over the PA.
And he liked to bop, virtually to the very finish of his life, seldom lacking a category on the native senior middle the place he’d dance, and assist the teacher, too.
“I’ve had such a blessed, fantastic life,” Siracusa stated on the finish of the 2020 interview.
Siracusa is survived by two of his 4 kids, Geraldine “Gerry” Gomara and Steve Siracusa, and an prolonged household that features 47 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life will finally be held at Christ Group Church in Canoga Park, the place Siracusa attended for a few years, Steve Siracusa stated.
It’s tentatively set for Feb. 5, 2022, two days after Siracusa would have turned 100.