Philly songwriter Dolores Silvers
By JOHN F. MORRISON
Philadelphia Daily News
The tables are empty, the dance floor's deserted.
You play the same love song, it's the 10th time you've heard it.
That's the beginning, just one of the clues,
You've had your first lesson in learnin' the blues.
Folks of a certain age will remember that doleful Frank Sinatra standard from the '50s. It was written by a beautiful former South Philly gal named Dolores "Vicki" Silvers.
Her early years were spent in the company of such luminaries of that period as Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Frank Palumbo, and sports figures like Joe DiMaggio and Leo Durocher, many of whom hung out with Paul "Skinny" D'Amato, owner of the legendary 500 Club in Atlantic City.
She penned other songs, including "I'll Bring You A Rainbow," that were performed by a number of celebrated entertainers of the time.
But Dolores had equal fame at home, where she raised three children with her clothing-executive husband, and was the "walking encyclopedia" of the family, called at all hours by children, nieces and nephews for answers to burning questions like "What novel begins with . . ." .
She was still doing aerobics, working on the "Great American novel," and combing rare-book stores when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
She chose not to treat it, not wanting to be a burden on her family, and died Sunday at age 79. She grew up in South Philadelphia, and she and her family lived for many years on Remington Road in Wynnewood. Recently, they had moved to New York City and then to Sarasota, Fla.
During the heady years of her youth, Dolores appeared on the "Tonight Show," then hosted by Steve Allen. She made such an impression on the producers that they offered her the chance to be the first woman co-host of the "Today Show." She turned it down.
"She never looked back," said her daughter Gina Silvers-Kent.
But she saw her song, "Learnin' the Blues," show up in the Rat Pack version of the movie, "Oceans 11," and sung by Tony Bennett, Vic Damone and Leslie Gore, among others.
In 1974, she opened Grand Travel Agency on Chestnut Street with a clientele that included then-Mayor Frank Rizzo, Jack Kelly Jr., Sun Ray drug magnate Harry Sylk, and her cousin the late U.S. Rep. Thomas Foglietta.
Dolores was born in Philadelphia to Nellie and Arthur DiTullio. She graduated from John W. Hallahan High School for Girls.
For several years, she was a model working with the Eileen Ford modeling agency.
She married Arthur Silvers, an executive with Botany 500/H. Daroff & Sons, in 1948. He died on Father's Day 2005.
During the Vietnam War, she was so vigorous in her anti-war protests that she was sure the FBI had a file on her. She also worked in the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy.
Dolores was dedicated to giving her children the same appreciation for the arts as she had. The family made biweekly trips to New York to see Broadway shows. They held front-row seats at the Academy of Music, and regularly explored the Art Museum.
"The gift of a love for all things creative is what her children are so very grateful for," her daughter said.
Christmas 1977 was a big blast for the Silverses, featuring a Mummers contingent and a fife- and-drum corps marching through their mansion (which featured five pianos) on Remington Road.
Her legacy to her children, Gina Silvers-Kent said, is "a deep passion and respect for art, music and the written word, a desire to learn, and a healthy sense of rebellion."
She described her mother as "a woman who countless loved ones, strangers and ships-in-the-night call unique."
Dolores also is survived by another daughter, Janet Silvers-Philbert; two sisters, Geraldine Bates and Jacqueline Back; a brother, Arthur DiTullio, and a granddaughter, Zoe Kent. She was predeceased by her son, Tony Silvers.
The enemy of truth is distortion.