John Conte (15 September 1915 — 4 September 2006) was a stage, film and TV actor, and later a television station owner.
Conte was born in Palmer, Massachusetts. His mother, Maria (later known as Mary), emigrated to the U.S. from Calabria, Italy, with her lifelong friend Francesca Cuda, who had moved to Los Angeles, California before the Conte family. To be closer to Francesca, the family moved to L.A. in John's teens. After graduating from L.A.'s Lincoln High School he got jobs as a radio actor and singer. One of his first regular roles was on the Burns and Allen radio show in the 1940s.
In 1947, he appeared in Rodgers and Hammerstein's short-lived Broadway musical Allegro. He returned to Broadway in 1950 to appear in the musical Arms and the Girl.
His television career began as master of ceremonies of a 1951 late Sunday afternoon comedy hour emanating from New York called Star Time, co-starring Frances Langford andLew Parker as John and Blanche Bickerson ("The Bickersons") as well as sound-effects master stand-up comedian Reginald Gardner. He own hilarious weekly solo skit on Star Time was as a heavily accented Italian-American chef (all in white, complete with huge muffin-shaped chef's hat) bumblingly preparing recipes as he recited them along with frequent tangential references to "the homemade-a wine" fermenting in his bathtub visible from the kitchen.
This led to a featured guest appearance with Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows perhaps a year later. He then hosted Matinee Theater, a live-drama series on NBC (one of the first daytime shows on network television) and followed this with guest appearances on the 1960s Perry Mason courtroom series (with Raymond Burr in the title role).
His major film role was "Drunky" in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955).
In 1968 he and his long-term third wife, Sirpuhe Philibosian Conte, launched KMIR-TV, an NBC-affiliated UHF station in the Palm Springs–Rancho Mirage market. The Contes built KMIR into the third-largest station in the Coachella Valley, and after thirty years (in 1999) sold the station to Milwaukee-based Journal Communications.
He was a founding sponsor of the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, and one of the founders of the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California.
In 1997, a Golden Palm Star on the Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
He died of natural causes at the Eisenhower Medical Center he had helped to found, ninety years of age.