The 2014 auditions of "America's Got Talent" continued Sunday evening with "Show-Stopping Sunday" and, true to its titular billing, the episode provided several show-stoppers, including the final audition with 74-year-old Frank the Singer (Frank Dimitri). And if there was one lesson Frank the Singer taught viewers, it was that you are never too old to follow your dreams.
In his BuddyTV recap on June 22, Bill King suggested somebody "get this guy a gig at a casino." And it's an excellent suggestion.
Frank the Singer hasn't sung in 50 years but he has decided that "America's Got Talent" is where he'll shoot for the stars. He said he has always stuttered and, because of the impediment, he lacked confidence to pursue singing as a career. So he became a bartender, a job he would hold for half a century, he said in the video run-up to his audition, "even though I always wanted to sing."
"Time takes care of all things," he noted philosophically. "My dream is to sing on stage," he stuttered self-consciously. "And hopefully the judges'll like me."
But Frank Dimitri had the "America's Got Talent" judges and live audience eating out of his hands just seconds after going out on stage. After saying it was a "thrill," to which Judge Howie Mandel thanked him and Heidi Klum pointed out that the gentleman was actually pointing at Judge Mel B and herself, he added, "I love the ladies."
Howie quickly found out that Frank was single. Howie noted suggestively that so was fellow judge Heidi Klum.
When Howie asked what he did now, he said he liked to walk and sing. Howie couldn't help himself, so he prompted, "So you'll be walking and singing for us this evening?"
"Oh, absolutely," Frank said without missing a beat.
Just one line into Frank Sinatra's "I've Got The World On A String" and Judge Howard Stern was smiling like an enchanted little boy. Judge Mel B was wide-eyed and mesmerized. And when the horns kicked in and Frank the Singer started snapping his fingers, Heidi Klum was dancing in her seat, the crowd was on its feet, host Nick Cannon was moving to the beat in the wings, and Howie Mandel was watching the place erupt, a huge smile on his face.
Unlike many at his age, Frank Dimitri's voice did not waver, nor did it show any strain or weakness. And when he sang Frank Sinatra, he belted out lyrics in Ole Blue Eyes' style like a talented doppelganger. It was a smooth and perfect rendition of the Sinatra standard "I've Got The World On A String," one of the great singer's most enduring hits and a song covered by other greats like Tony Bennett and Michael Buble.
Frank Dimitri got his wish and then some: The judges didn't just like him; they loved him. Three -- Heidi, Mel B, and Howie -- gave him a standing ovation.
And so did the audience. Cameras panned the crowd, catching everyone clapping, singing, smiling, loving every second of the performance. And as the song came to a close, one young woman even wiped away a tear.
Judge Howie Mandel held up a hand to quiet the still-clapping crowd and asked, "Frank. One question. Why did it take so long? You have just been discovered tonight." Frank just smiled. Howie pressed, "Is it something you tried to pursue when you were younger?"
"Well," the septegenarian said, "I always wanted to be a singer, but I stutter a lot." And just as he said the words, he had trouble getting past the words "I" and "stutter." "It's an emotional thing," he continued. "And there's times when I can talk and talk and talk and I won't stutter. And there's times when I get on the phone and it's a struggle. And when I was a kid, I stuttered a lot, so I never had the confidence to really do it."
Howie acknowledged, "Better late than never." He went on: "This is the right time. It would be such a loss for the world if you never had done it. This was a wonderful moment for us here at 'America's Got Talent.'"
Judge Mel B said that Frank's voice was "so smooth and so sexy" that "I think that I'm probably a little bit in love with you."
Fellow judge Heidi Klum was smiling and nodding. She said he was "fantastic" and "humble" and "nice." She made the heart sign with her hands and told him, "I give you my heart."
Judge Howard Stern critiqued, "You did a great job up there. Honest to God, you are fantastic." And when he delivered Frank Dimitri's fourth "yes" to get him through to the second round, Howard said, "Sinatra, Tony Bennett have nothing on you."
Frank simply smiled and thanked the audience, which was still standing and applauding.
"Show-stopping Sunday" had lived up to its name. From dancers to hand balancers to a "mystifier" to an 11-year-old power singer to a couple of cello-rocking brothers to a 74-year-old pop standard crooner, "America's Got Talent" had auditioned quite a few potential million-dollar acts. Now, they just have to get through the next round.
"America's Got Talent" airs on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. (EST) on NBC Television.