ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Louis Prima's Tomb in New Orleans

Updated on November 6, 2017

Louis is one of those New Orleans icons who goes through a resurgence every few years, and I have to confess that I just love the guy.

With a larger than life personality, he's remembered as much for his movies and his Vegas act as his music. Prima was born and raised in downtown New Orleans, working in the orchestra pit of the Saenger theater before moving onto Bourbon Street's Red Door and then on to big time after Benny Goodman had Prima write several songs for him which became hits.

Louis Prima sings in The Jungle Book

Prima believed wine, women and song made life worthwhile

In his act Louis Prima played a crazy musician,a loose cannon, and a flirt while his best known partner, Keely Smith, played the straight man, bored and slightly annoyed.

Unfortunately, that seems to have been less of an act than the reality of the situation. He partied hard, and wasn't too particular about his company- he went out to California when he realized he'd gotten in deeper with the Mafia than he'd realized. He was also caught several times in the company of women he wasn't, you know, strictly speaking, married to.

Whatever his personal issues, publicly he was always happy, always the clown, and was tapped to play the mischievous but lovable ape in "The Jungle Book."

Front view of his trumpter

A lingering end

Five wives and several fortunes won and lost later, he fell into a coma due to a brain tumor in 1975, hanging on for three years before his death.

He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery briefly before his relatively modest tomb in Lakelawn Metairie Cemetery was built. It wasn't until the 1990s that renowned sculptor Alexei Kazantsev added the Angel Gabriel atop it to welcome him home, personalizing the gravesite for the world-renown trumpeter.

Just a Gigolo

The inscription reads:

Dec. 7 1910-Aug 24, 1978
When the end comes I know they'll say, "Just a Gigolo" As life goes on without me.
Lovingly, your little family Gia Lena Ann and Louis Jr.

Gia was his last wife, and although Prima had five children only those they had together are on the inscription.

She now manages, and keeps his name alive.

Sadly, there aren't many videos out there of him performing live, but below is the song from the inscription.

Keely Smith, wife #4 performs with him. A famous singer in her own right, she walked out on both Prima and a lucrative contract in Las Vegas in 1961 after 8 years of marriage and 3 children. In her biography she states it was because of his philandering, drinking and gambling, but Prima's final wife Gia disputes the last two out of three.

"Just a Gigolo"

Louis Prima Tomb

St. Patrick's in New Orleans

Prima lives on

Prima's only son, Louis Jr, can be found performing in Vegas, playing swing music and covering his father's hits. He's developed a persona very near to his dad's of a happy go lucky musician. He learned some lessons, though: he's only been married (and divorced) once.

Around New Orleans you can hear Prima's music at any time of year, but mostly around St. Patrick's Day, when the Italians and Irish get together for several parades around the area.

The St. Pat's parade is different from Mardi Gras parades- you have floats with riders throwing out beads (and cabbages!), but before they roll over a thousand men in tuxedos march, exchanging flowers for kisses. Often it's Louis' music they choose to play as they strut their stuff, which seems only fitting, wouldn't you say?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • PaigePixel profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Thank you- and his music is alive and well here in his hometown!

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 

      5 years ago from Cape Cod

      Good job on bringing the name of Louis Prima back. I don't care about the back stories, the ex wives and all the other dirt. He was an incredible musician. A master of the trumpet and a great vocal stylist, Louis was the top act in Vegas for many years. His sax man, Sam Butera was one of the greatest tenor players ever.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)