During a career spanning more than half a century, Perry Como recorded exclusively for the RCA Victor label after signing with them in 1943. "Mr. C.", as he was nicknamed, sold millions of records for Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and pioneered a weekly musical variety television show, which set the standards for the genre and proved to be one of the most successful in television history. Como was seen weekly on television from 1949 to 1963, then continued hosting the Kraft Music Hall variety program on a monthly basis until 1967. His television shows and seasonal specials were broadcast throughout the world.
Also a popular recording artist, Perry produced numerous hit records with record sales so high the label literally stopped counting at Como's behest. His combined success on television and popular recordings was not matched by any other artist of the time. Billboard magazine charts him with over 150 hits, most of which charted in the Top Ten, and many of which earned him a Gold Record. His compatriots in music, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, both said that Mr. C actually stood for "cool" because no one could appear as relaxed as Como did on his weekly tv shows, until Andy Williams a few years later.
Como's appeal spanned generations, and he was widely respected for both his professional standards and the conduct in his personal life. In the official RCA Records Billboard magazine memorial, his life was summed up in these few words: "50 years of music and a life well lived. An example to all."
One of the many factors in his success was Como's insistence on his principles of good taste; if he considered something to be in bad or poor taste, it was not in the show or broadcast. When a remark made by Julius La Rosa about television personality Arthur Godfrey on The Perry Como Show was misconstrued, Como offered an on-air apology at the beginning of his next show, against the advice of his staff. While his performance of "Ave Maria" was a tradition of his holiday television programs, Como refused to sing it at live performances, saying, "It's not the time or place to do it", even though it was the number one request of his audiences. Another was his naturalness; the man viewers saw on the screen was the same person who could be encountered behind a supermarket shopping cart, at a bowling alley, or in a kitchen making breakfast. From his first Chesterfield Supper Club television show, if scripts were written at all, they were based on the way Como would say something. He was not devoid of a temper, and it could be seen at times as a result of the many frustrations of daily life. His music director from 1948 – 1963, Mitchell Ayres, said, "Perry has a temper like everyone else. And he loses his temper at the normal things everyone else does. When we're driving, for instance, and somebody cuts him off, he really lets the offender have it."
Como received the 1959 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, five Emmys from 1955 to 1959, a Christopher Award (1956) and he shared a Peabody Award with good friend Jackie Gleason in 1956. Between 1963 and 1986, Como's television appearances began tapering off, gradually becoming limited to seasonal and holiday specials with the emphasis being on Christmas. Como had numerous Christmas television specials, beginning on Christmas Eve 1948, and continuing to 1994, when his final Christmas special was recorded in Ireland. Como's final Christmas special was filmed in January 1994 in Dublin's Point Theatre before an audience of 4,500 people, including Irish President Mary Robinson and Como's friend, the actress Maureen O'Hara. Perry viewed this as a farewell performance. He had the flu during the show, which took four hours to record. At the show's conclusion, Como apologized to his Dublin audience for a performance he felt was not up to his usual standards.
He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1990 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1987. Posthumously, Como received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002; he was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Como has the distinction of having three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio, television, and music. Como died in his sleep on May 12, 2001, at his home in Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida, six days before his eighty-ninth birthday. He was reported to have suffered from symptoms of Alzheimer's disease during the final two years of his life. His funeral Mass took place at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Palm Beach, Florida.