His fame has lasted to the present day despite the limited marketing and promotional vehicles available during Caruso’s era.(He was, nonetheless, a client of Edward Bernays, during the latter’s tenure as a press agent in the United States.) Publicity in Caruso’s time relied on newspapers, particularly wire services, along with magazines, photography and relatively instantaneous communication via the telephone and the telegraph, to spread a message and raise a performer’s profile.Caruso biographers Pierre Key, Bruno Zirato and Stanley Jackson attribute Caruso’s fame not only to his voice and musicianship but also to a keen business sense and an enthusiastic embrace of commercial sound recording, then in its infancy.
Caruso was the third of seven children born to the same parents, and one of only three to survive infancy.
There is an often repeated story of Caruso having had 17 or 18 siblings who died in infancy.
Caruso’s widow Dorothy also included the story in a memoir that she wrote about her late husband.
She quotes the tenor as follows in relation to his mother, Anna Caruso (née Baldini): “She had twenty-one children. I am number nineteen boy.” Caruso’s father, Marcellino, was a mechanic and foundry worker with a steady job.
Initially, Marcellino thought that his son should adopt the same trade and at the age of 11, the boy was apprenticed to a mechanical engineer named Palmieri who constructed public water fountains.