15 Facts About Roberto Rossellini
By: Liz Flynn
Roberto Rossellini was one of the greatest directors of Italian neorealist cinema of all time. He is famous for movies including ‘Dafne’, ‘The White Ship’, ‘The Ways of Love’, ‘Europa ‘51’, ‘The World Population’, and ‘Rice University’. Here are 15 facts you may not know about this famous director and screenwriter.
Gorgeous Italian Models
By: Liz Flynn
A common stereotype about the Italians is that they are blessed with good looks. However, the number of famous fashion models who come from Italy may prove that there is some truth in this belief. Here are six of the most beautiful Italian models in the world.
Monica Anna Maria Bellucci is an Italian model who was born in Citta di Castello on September 30, 1964. She is also known for her acting work, especially her role as a Bond Girl. She is often described as one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Carla Bruni is a successful French-Italian model whose modeling career was at its most successful in the 1980s and 1990s. She has since worked as a singer and songwriter. She was born in Turin on December 23, 1967. She is married to Nikolas Sarkozy, the former French President.
Elisabetta Canalis began her career as a showgirl before progressing to successful careers in acting, presenting and modeling. She was born on September 12, 1978, in Sassari.
Bianca Balti was born on March 19, 1984, in Lodi, Italy. She is considered one of the most beautiful and successful of the Italian models. She was married to Christian Lucidi between 2006 and 2010. She has two daughters, Matilde and Mia.
Vanessa Hessler is an Italian-American model who is especially well-known in Italy, France and Germany due to her work in publications in these countries. Born in Rome on January 21, 1988, Hessler has worked as a model since the age of 15.
Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanni Rossellini was born in Rome on June 18, 1942. She is the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini. She has a twin sister called Isotta. In addition to her work as a model, she is also a famous actress, filmmaker, author and philanthropist.
12 Facts About Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese is one of the most successful and well-known Italian-American movie directors of all time. He is also a screenwriter, producer, and film historian. He is often regarded as one of the most significant people in the film industry in terms of cinematic history. Here are ten more facts you might not know about this Italian-American director.
By: Judy Dick
Anna Maria Pierangeli and her twin sister Marisa Pavan were born on June 19, 1932, in Cagliari, Italy situated in the southern region where Sardinia overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. When the twins were three, the Pierangeli family moved to Rome where both little girls set their sights on becoming film stars. The time came to realise their dreams and Anna adopted her surname and split it in half. She would find fame as Pier Angeli, a nom de plume that would drift upon the memories of her friends and associates long after her untimely death.
Angeli's first appearance was in an uncredited role in the 1948 Italian production of The Million Dollar Nickel. It was largely a forgettable film, however, for Pier Angeli, at 16, although a predominantly tempestuous beginning for she would not appear on screen again until 1951, it was a start. Between 1949 and 1951 she appeared in stage productions and found work in menial jobs but she found how the powers of frustration could mercilessly hinder her progress for she longed to become a part of the lights and the glamour.
Yet it seemed her impassioned yearnings were answered when Angeli's debut came to her in the Vittorio De Sica film Domani è troppo tardi ("Tomorrow Is Too Late") in 1951. It appeared she had become famous overnight when she was awarded a Silver Ribbon (Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists) for Best Actress for her performance in the film. She later appeared in The Light Touch as Anna Vasarri opposite Stewart Granger, but it was during the same year when MGM signed her to play "Teresa" in the Fred Zinnemann film that at 18 the critiques compared her with Greta Garbo. She was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Female Newcomer in 1952 an accolade that would carry her toward The Devil Makes Three, a film that followed in 1952 wherein she appeared alongside Gene Kelly. Then in 1954 she played in Mam'zelle Nitouche (Oh No, Mam'zelle) then Somebody up There Likes Me in 1956 with Paul Newman. That particular role had been earmarked for James Dean, but after his death, Newman was contracted and would thereby make his acting debut. In 1959 Angeli made a well received record of Italian songs titled "Italia con Pier Angeli". Her singing voice had already been used in "Mam'zelle Nitouche" and again in "Port Afrique" and she was finally fully established.
She had a brief affair with James Dean to whom she became engaged, but under constant pressure from her dominant mother who engineered a change of phone number so that Dean could not reach her daughter, Pier broke the engagement and later married Vic Damone in 1954. However, it was not a happy union and when Dean, 24 died in a car crash in 1955 by 1959 Angeli's marriage was in trouble. After their divorce, she and Damone were plagued by court battles for the custody of their son, Perry who was awarded to his mother until his teens when he went to live with his father.
After her divorce, Angeli returned to live and to work in Britain and Europe and made a strong comeback to British drama. She starred opposite Richard Attenborough in The Angry Silence in 1960 and was nominated for Best Actress for her performance. She married her second husband in 1962, Italian composer Armando Trovajoli with whom she had another son, Andrew.
Reunited with Stewart Granger in the film Sodom and Gomorrah she followed on with a brief role in the epic film Battle of the Bulge in 1965. In 1968 she named James Dean the greatest love of her life and during a turbulent four-year period through to 1970, Armando Trovajoli left Pier Angeli in 1965. She later, in 1971, made her final appearance in a low budget B-grade sci-fi opus Octaman. It was the event that brought an undeniable understanding to Angeli that her dream of super-stardom would never come to fruition. It was the final blow that rendered her asunder.
On September 10, 1971 Pier Angeli was found dead of a barbiturate overdose in her Beverly Hills home. She was 39 years old. On 14 September 1971 Angeli's funeral service was held at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. Vic Damone, her son Perry, Norma Eberhard, Dr. Ramon Spritzler, Liza Minelli, and the families of Kirk Douglas and Louis Jordan attended the service, later she was interred at the Cimitière des Bullis in Rueil-Malmaison, France.
By: Judy Dick
Rocco Farinola and Mamie (nee Damone) were Italian immigrants from Bari who chose America to bring up their family. Vito Rocco Farinola, their first and only son was born to them in Brooklyn, New York on June 12, 1928.
Rocco Snr. was an electrician who also sang and played guitar and Vito's mother Mamie taught piano while his cousin Doretta Morrow was the actress and singer. Musically inspired, the young Vito emulated popular crooner, Frank Sinatra. His mother, who noticed his talent scrimped to attain $1 each week so she could pay for her son to attend singing lessons. That dollar would also pay Vito's subway fare from Brooklyn. Vito began singing at Sunday Mass at St. Finbar's Church in Bath Beach, Brooklyn, where he exercised his passion under the guidance of organist Anthony Amorello.
When Farinola was fourteen, his father was injured at work and the young lad dropped out of high school to support the family. He attended work as an usher and elevator operator in the Paramount Theater in Manhattan. He later recounted during an interview, "Perry Como was starring there one night and I was taking him back to his dressing room on the fifth floor. He had just finished a show. I said “I am a great fan of yours. Can I ask your advice?”
“What is it kid?” replied Como.
“My Mom thinks I can sing but we really can't afford $1 a week for a lesson. Would you listen and tell me if I have any talent?” I stopped the elevator between floors. The song I sang was “There Must Be A Way” and I sang four bars and stopped. Perry says, “Go ahead,” so I sang another four bars and stopped.
“Just finish the song,” he told me and I sang the rest. Then Perry says, “You've really got something kid. Don't stop singing.” I asked if I should continue voice lessons and with Como's encouragement he instructed “Keep singing” then referred me to a local bandleader.” Como would later become somewhat of a mentor.
Vito Farinola adopted his mother's maiden name and won first place on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts Show in 1947. It was his first directional break when he began regular professional gigs on the local radio. His paths were leading him toward a strong and promising future and when he met Milton Berle, he was directed to sing at a prominent nightclubs, La Martingue and The Aquarium. Damone was 19.
He released a debut single, “I Have But One Heart” and followed with, “You Do” and a duet with Patti Page, “Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart." All sold well but it wasn't until he began hosting his own radio show on Saturday Night Serenade that his career began to radiate across the airwaves.
It was 1949 when Damone hit the airwaves with “Again” and followed it with “You're Breaking My Heart”. Both singles sold over a million copies and Damone was riding the success wave at last. By the early fifties he was a successful recording star and when he recorded “On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady, Damone found super-star status. However, it was his version of “An Affair to Remember”, one of the last songs ever written by Harry Warren, that remains unparalleled by any other singer in history.
With several marriages under his wing, his longest union being with the late Rena Rowan-Damone who died in 2016, his singing career spanned over five decades and brought him more often to the TV screen where he became a personality and a variety-show guest.
55 years after the young Damone left school to support his family, he returned to Lafayette High School in Brooklyn to receive his high school diploma in 1997. It was 2002 when Damone gave his last concert performance at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach, Florida. Kravis Chairman, Alex Dreyfoos delivered a post-performance speech to a sold-out audience. “Vic Damone is the kind of performer who comes along once in lifetime,” he said. “Fortunately, he came along in our lifetime.” Damone, regarded as one of the most prolific crooners in our history suffered a stroke during that same year and retired.
Just shy of his 83rd birthday, he returned to the stage one last time wanting to introduce his six grandchildren the privilege of seeing him on stage for the very first time before he died. Vic Damone is 89 and lives quietly at home in Palm Beach, Florida having lost his beloved wife, Rowena who at 88 died on November 6 2016.
By: Judy Dick
Count Di Cagliostro, born Giuseppe Balsamo on June 2, 1743, in Palermo, Italy lost his father, a jeweller who went bankrupt and died just a few months before Giuseppe Balsamo was born. Unable to support her son, Giuseppe's mother sent him to live with an uncle who ensured the young boy would receive an education. Sent to live in a Benedictine monastery it was here Balsamo discovered a natural talent for chemistry, medicine and spiritual rites. However, he was never satisfied with the basic teachings taught to him and ran away from the monastery to join a gang of 'vagabonds' who committed murder and petty crimes. Sent back to live with his uncle, he escaped a prison sentence and began to feign an interest in the occult.
Not having rid himself of his newly acquired criminal mindset, Balsamo became a thief, a charlatan, a pimp, and a gigolo. He met a wealthy goldsmith named Vincenzo Marano and convinced the older man to hand over seventy pieces of silver. In exchange for the money, he would reveal a hidden cache of treasure buried several hundred years previously deep within the bowels of the city. Marano believed Balsamo's knowledge of the occult and was confident they would be kept safe as they prepared for the expedition to Palermo but Balsamo attacked Marano and left him bleeding as he fled with the silver and began to travel the world.
In 1768 having trodden through Rome he became a secretary to Cardinal Orsini, however, the young Balsamo found the job to be boring and began to lead a double life selling “Magical Egyptian” amulets and engravings. He was introduced to and married Lorenza Feliciani, a young seventeen year-old girl he would know as Seraphina and the couple lived in Rome with her parents until his coarse sexual behaviour toward their daughter contrasted with their deeply religious beliefs and the two young people were asked to leave.
They travelled to London where Balsamo, claiming several pseudonyms finally settled on a self-conferred title, “Count Alessandro di Cagliostro”. In the April of 1776, Cagliostro was admitted as a Freemason and in the December of 1777, Cagliostro and his wife left London to travel through Europe in search of converts to his self appointed “Egyptian Freemason Lodge”.
Some people dismissed him as a self imported Jesuit spy while others suspected he was a sorcerer. Many wondered if he was really the head of an Egyptian Masonic cult and still others, through a veil of deceit and intrigue saw him as an agent for an international revolutionary conspiracy. But no one knew where he came from and or what he was truly capable of. The wise dismissed him outright claiming he was a fraud and considered his admirers as overcredulous fools.
In January 1785 the couple travelled to Paris to meet with Cardinal Rohan. It was in France, Cagliostro was prosecuted having become involved in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace and was held in the Bastille for nine months. But when no evidence could hold him accountable, he was released but banished from France by order of Louis XVI. Cagliostro returned to England with his wife to pursue his penchant for freemasonry.
But, once they arrived in Paris, the French police and the Italian Inquisition began to study Cagliostro's past and concluded he was Giuseppe Balsamo which he emphatically denied in a published open letter to the people of France. Having received a public apology, Cagliostro returned to Italy where he was met by two members of the Roman Inquisition.
Although only hearsay, it is alleged it was his wife, Seraphina who betrayed him and on 27 December, 1789, he was accused of practising freemasonry and arrested and imprisoned in the Castel Sant'Angelo where he was brought to trial. Cagliostro stated he had, in fact, been born to Christians of noble birth but had been abandoned as an orphan on the island of Malta. He had been raised at “the Palace of the Mufti Salahayam” in Medina, Arabia until he had travelled as a child to Mecca and Cairo then returned to Malta where he had been a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. It was there he told the court he studied alchemy, the Kabbalah and magic.
Nevertheless, he was accused of heresy, magic, con-jury and freemasonry and the Roman Inquisition sentenced Cagliostro to death. When the Pope learned of his demise, he overturned the death sentence to life imprisonment in the Castel but when Cagliostro attempted to escape he was overpowered and sent into solitary confinement in the Fortress of San Leo, near the city of Montefeltro. He died alone on August 26, 1795.
By: Judy Dick
Rocky Marciano was born Rocco Francis Marchegianon on September 1, 1923, in Brockton, Massachusetts where he was raised by his parents who immigrated from Italy. He had five siblings, two brothers, Peter and Louis and three sisters, Alice, Concetta and Elizabeth. At eighteen months, Rocky contracted a bout of pneumonia which almost killed him but with an innate will to fight, he pulled through and went on to attend school. He played baseball, worked out on homemade weight lifting equipment, used a heavily stuffed mailbag hanging from a tree in his back yard as a heavy bag that he consistently punched and executed countless chin-ups until fatigue almost had him passing out.
Ousted from the baseball team at school, due to having joined a church league which was considered as violating a school rule that forbade players from joining other teams, he completed tenth grade and dropped out. To earn a living, he joined the chute men on the delivery trucks for the Brockton Ice and Coal Company and took further work as a ditch digger, railroad layer and cobbler. Conforming to his country's intention, by March 1943, Marciano was drafted into the United States Army where for two years whilst stationed in Swansea, Wales, he helped ferry supplies across the English Channel to Normandy. When the war finally ended in '45, whilst awaiting discharge from the army, Marciano entered into a series of amateur fights. He won the 1946 Amateur Armed Forces Boxing Tournament and began fighting as a professional boxer that led him into 1947 when he knocked Lee Epperson out in three successive rounds.
It was the spring of 1947 when Marciano met Barbara Cousins who was the daughter of a retired Brockton police sergeant. They became engaged and married on New Years Eve 1950. Having borne one daughter whom they named Mary Ann, they adopted a son and aptly named him Rocco Kevin.
With a fetish for baseball that had lingered since high school, he tried out for the Chicago Cubs but after being cut from the team, Rocky returned to his home town where he began training with longtime friend Allie Colombo. Marciano commissioned a pair of heavy training shoes be made specifically for him and was running over seven miles per day whilst wearing them. His fitness regime maintained his stamina and paid off when in 1948 he won the fight against Harry Bilizarian and continued on to defend his title for a further 16 fights by knockout. When the ring announcer failed again to pronounce "Marchegiano”, correctly, “Marciano" stuck and became his pseudonym.
Tenacious and determined, he was driven and in 1952 completed each fight before the fifth round but when he defeated Jersey Joe Walcott with his "Susie Q" in the thirteenth round, he knocked Walcott out and won the world heavyweight championship. He was at his peak and diligently defended his hard earned title six more times before he announced his retirement after he knocked Archie Moore out in the ninth round of his last title fight. It was September 1955 and he had won 49 straight fights with 43 of them being by knock-out.
On the eve of his 46th birthday in August 31, 1969, Rocky Marciano, a passenger in a small private Cessna together with Frankie Farrell, the oldest son of Lew Farrell, a former boxer who had known Marciano since childhood and their pilot Glenn Belz, were tragically killed when the plane crashed after Belz tried to land on a small airfield and hit a tree two miles short of the runway. Five years later, Marciano's wife, Barbara aged 46 died of lung cancer and was buried next to him.
By: Judy Dick
Pierino Ronald 'Perry' Como, the seventh son to Pietro Como and Lucia Travaglini was born on 18th May 1912. Although Perry, the first of his parent's children who would be born in the U.S. could call himself a Pennsylvanian, his ancestry was deep in the Italian Abruzzese town of Palena, The seventh of 13 children, he was brought up in an Italian-speaking home and could not speak English until he started school.
As a toddler, young Perry discovered the second-hand organ his father had attained for $3 and it was apparent the child had an ear for music as he began to play tunes by ear. Pietro was an amateur baritone and encouraged all of his children to attend music lessons, a luxury the family could ill afford but it was Perry who took on work to pay for more lessons. Perry was proficient at the trombone, guitar and organ but never indulged in singing lessons.
Pietro was diagnosed with a heart condition which gave Perry an opportunity to manage his own barber shop when he was 14 and it was Como and his brothers who would support the household solely. Regardless of how he felt about his musical abilities, Perry's main vocation was to become the best barber in town. With a delightful twist that ensured customers would return to his shop in his home town, he worked as a singing barber. He was also a member of the Canonsburg Italian Band along side Stan Vinton, a long term customer at his barber shop and the father of Bobby Vinton. Whilst he was also the church organist, Como sang at weddings and became so popular as the 'Wedding Barber', he was invited to work and sing in Pittsburgh and throughout Ohio.
It was 1929 and the 17-year-old Como met Roselle Belline. During a gathering around the campfire Como was invited to sing and he chose More Than You Know. Whilst his baritone voice rang into the night, his eyes never left Roselle for the duration of the song. They were married four years later and raised three children together.
Como received his first break with Ted Weem's Orchestra in the mid-1930s. It was on Weem's radio show 'Beat The Band' he was truly heard but after their break-up in 1942, Perry had visions of returning home to do what he thought he did best; barbering. He was intercepted and invited to host 'Supper Club', a regional CBS radio show that would become the catalyst of his budding career.
In 1943, he signed an exclusive contract with RCA Victor Records that would forge a career spanning over half a century. Como was affectionately known as "Mr. C" and went on to sell millions of records whilst also appearing weekly on a musical variety television show. His television shows and specials would be broadcast globally as Perry Como continued to release hit after hit from the mid-'40s through to the 1970's.
It was 1945 that with the film, 'Words And Music' Como truly spread his wings. He then released Till The End of Time which spent 10 weeks at the top of the charts; it was this song that became the biggest hit of the year. Como followed through with ballads that truly justified his voice and in 1958 the Como's celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. It was throughout the 1950s that Como's appeal had remained unrivalled but when rock 'n' roll entered the music scene like a temptress that drew people into its popular beat, Perry Como's last number one song became Catch a Falling Star in 1958. He vanished from the world he knew for much of the following ten years but returned in 1970 for live shows in Las Vegas and television appearances.
He spent his final Christmas in Dublin in 1994 whilst filming a special and it would be his last appearance due to ill health. Roselle died suddenly on August 12th, 1998. She was 84 and Como was devastated by her loss. Como joined her in the May of 2001 and was buried next to his wife of 65 years.
By: Judy Dick
Robbed of a fulfilling life, James Gandolfini died having suffered a heart attack at the age of 51 in Rome on June 19, 2013. Born in Westwood, New Jersey, United States to Italian immigrants, his mother possessed a deep Italian ancestry, and his father, James Sr, who was awarded a Purple Heart in WWII, he was mostly familiar as Tony Soprano, the empathetic mob boss in the television series, "The Sopranos".
He grew up in Park Ridge, New Jersey where he enjoyed school sport and joined school plays in which he practiced his niche. He was a university graduate in 1983 who came away from his studies with a Bachelors Degree in communications. To support himself, he worked as a bouncer at a pub on campus and also as a bartender and club manager. Having been introduced to a Meisner technique acting class, he studied there for the next couple of years and them became infatuated with the craft.
In 1992 he secured a role in a Broadway version of A Street car Named Desire after which he got caught up in the romance of the stage and acquired small parts in films like True Romance in 1993 wherein his character gets to fall in love with a prostitute and they have the mob after them when they decide to go to California, Crimson Tide in 1995 and Lonely Hearts in 2006. It was with this theme he attracted similar parts for a while and continued to be cast as dangerous tough guys in films and went on to make over forty five movies in total. His most successful side to his career remained however, whilst he was playing Tony Soprano. The series became an all time global hit and sky-rocketed Gandolfini into the world of fame. After six successful seasons, the Sopranos called it quits in 2007.
He was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Lead Actor in a TV drama, The Sopranos' for the 1999 season and won an Emmy in 2000 for the second season. He claimed victory for his supporting role in The Mexican wherein he glowed in the lime light and later secured his third Emmy nomination for The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).
Passionate about Breast Cancer Research, he attended his home town's banquet each year and was often flanked by cast members of the Sopranos, where he managed to draw in large crowds to support the cause. But his self esteem was a cause for concern when he would often be heard telling an interviewer that he was 'just some dumb fat guy from Jersey.' It was never made clear if this was the way he truly saw himself, but with similar comments, it was assumed he did.
Gandolfini became a film fixture and continued on with feature films, like The Mexican which starred Brad Pitt alongside Julia Roberts among many others that gave him a wide range of character debuts. Gandolfini had returned to Broadway in 2009 so pursue his passion and began interviewing disabled Iraq War veterans in "Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq". It was not long thereafter and much too young to die at fifty one, he left behind a son, Michael who was born in 2000, whom he had with his former wife, Marcy Wudarski, and a daughter, Liliana who was born two years later to his current wife, Deborah Lin whom he married in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Photo Credit: Flickr
By: Judy Dick
Born Sophia Scicolone on September 20th 1934, she was one of two illegitimate children. A shy little girl who was forced to endure living in the slums of Pozzuoli in war torn Naples with her sister Maria, was teased at school for her fatherlessness. Her mother Romilda Villani tried to shield her from the cruelty of her peers and concentrated her goals for success on young daughter.
Sophia first saw her father when she was five years old, again at 17 and the last time when he died. She couldn't understand why he wouldn't divorce his wife and marry her mother and later, could not justify his presence in their lives. When he died, Sophia found forgiveness but she could not forget what she and her mother had been through. Those pains and the suffering left a scar in her heart that would emerge in many of her roles, imbuing them with such tumultuous emotion, it would bring tears to one's eyes.
Sophia would become the ultimate reflection of what her own mother had wanted to become. At fourteen, Sophia was the promise of breathtaking beauty and at fifteen entered a beauty pageant, Miss Italy in Rome. Considered too provocative to be awarded the 'crown' she was awarded the title Miss Eleganza 1950.
Many in the beauty pageant scenes spoke of Sophia in disparaging tones, uttering opinions that her nose was too big, her lips not right, her hips too wide, little realising, as Sophia herself put it, 'I had not exploded yet'. Regardless of being pubescent, she believed in herself and when she finally did 'explode' the ridicule turned to green envy.
She caught the attention of Carlo Ponti, a film producer who was 22 years older and as he put her under contract, christened her Sophia Loren. She acted in a string of small parts until in 1954 when she appeared in 'The Gold Of Naples' directed by one of Italy's best, Vittorio De Sica. The film made Sophia and her walk a star. In the mid fifties, she took America by storm appearing along side Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra in a film called The Pride and the Passion. Always cast as a voluptuous peasant, she managed to give her roles class while being a siren that took away the breaths of men young and old alike.
While romantically linked for a time to Carlo Ponti, the romance could not flourish. Ponti was married and divorce at the time was illegal. Under his paternal wing, Sophia Loren won an Oscar in 1962 and won international acclaim for her role in Two Women which earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress. It was at this time that Cary Grant had fallen in love with Sophia and expressed that love openly when he asked her for her hand in marriage but it wasn't to be. Carlo who realised he might lose the love of his life, in 1966 went to Mexico, divorced his wife and married Sophia whom he brought back to Italy. They would remain married for forty years during which time they had to beautiful sons. Sophia fiercely supports fidelity although when she saw the hypocrisy, laughed and denied being Italian. 'I am not Italian,' she said vehemently, 'I am Neopolitan!' and her engaging smile brought the lights of eternal and much deserved happiness to her eyes.
During the sixties and seventies, Sophia won five Golden Globe Awards for films that proved to the world she was a genuine actress with a passion for her craft. As the eighties approached however, her appearances on screen became few and she spent a lot of her time raising her sons, Carlo and Eduardo and became the first actress to launch her own fragrance and eye-wear.
Both Sophia and Carlo were not strangers to the Italian Authorities. Carlo had allegedly removed money illegally and Sophia was thought to be a tax evader. She turned herself in to the authorities in 1982 and spent 19 days behind bars in an Italian prison.
Declared as 'one of the world cinema's greatest treasures', the screen missed her whilst she grieved for her mother who died of cancer at the age of 77 in 1991. She would return to mainstream films in the early nineties but although she was well received, her films were not until she played a sexy divorcee who seduces Walter Matthau in the comedy, Grumpier Old Men in 1995.
At 72 and still stunningly beautiful, tastefully, but with little else on she posed for the Pirelli Calendar in not much more than her skin. In that same year, her husband, Carlo Ponti died. He was 94. Sophia now drifts between Switzerland and Los Angeles where she is close to her sons and their families and prefers quietude in her life.
Show business is what she did, she said recently, 'Not what I am.' And with a career that has given the world six decades of immeasurable pleasure and received 50 awards, Sophia Loren retains a dry sense of humour and with a sultry voice at 82 is still deemed a mega star and a stunning screen legend who will forever remain one of the most recognizable actresses of all time.
By: Judy Dick
When Alfredo James Pacino entered the world on April 25th, 1940, he was ensconced with his parents who had settled in East Harlem. Life was tough and when the boy turned two,his father, Salvatore who worked in insurance split with his mother, Rose. She relocated to settle with her parents in the neglected and forgotten neighborhood in the South Bronx. Salvatore moved to California to open a restaurant he named Pacino's but youngPacino rarely saw his father whilst he was a boy.
Being the sole child without siblings, his mother who had retained custody of him and his grandmother and grand father who were protective of him,rarely let him out of their sight. Although money was scarce, occasionally Rose would take her son to the cinema where young Alfredo would sit on the edge of his seat, drinking in every nuance the actors portrayed on the big screen. Home again, he would re-enact the storyline in detail for his grandparents. Considered shy, having been sheltered until he was seven,Alfredo possessed a vivid imagination and could conjure tales for his classmates of 'his days' in Texas. Growing up was difficult for this introverted soul but when he turned 14, he saw a performance of Chekhov's The Seagull and was no impressed he began to acknowledge an inner passion for acting.
He attended theSchool of Performing Arts but failed almost every class except English. Disillusioned, he decided at 17, he'd had enough; he was wasting his time. However, he retained a certain temerity and his ambitious nature drove him toward a string of jobs that taught him the duties of a janitor, what a postal clerk's work involved,the duties of a messenger and a bus boy. Determined to make a name for himself, he continued to work in order to pursue his studies in acting. He joined the theatrical underground in New York, playing bit parts in basement plays until eventually, he was drawn to the Herbert Berghof Studio. But at 21 his mother died and her loss tore him in two and almost destroyed him until he gave himself time to truly grieve.
The 1960's were particularly difficult for Al Pacino who while he had enrolled for acting lessons at theActor's Institute, endured times of pennilessness and homelessness. Those times however,rose to remind him of his humble beginnings in the South Bronx. In a way those days had served him well as with his growing tenacity, he learned the strategic techniques of Method Acting and eventually made a signature performance of his own. He debuted in Hello Out There off-Broadway directed by an old acquaintance, Charles Laughton and finally won an Obie Award for his work in The Indian Wants The Bronx, together with a Tony for his performance in Does The Tiger Wear A Necktie? Pacino followed through with his first television appearance in NYPD in 1968.
He was twenty-eight years old and his experience on the streets had begun to show in his acting thus he won a role in 1971 playing a heroin addict in a movie namedThe Panic In Needle Park. His ability drew the scrutiny of Francis Coppola, a director who was so impressed, he offered the young Pacino a role in The Godfather, playing Michael Corleone. That film earned him an Oscar nomination that confirmed his place in Hollywood as a fine performer and made the film 1972's unforgettable blockbuster. Pacino's performance in Serpico brought him to the forefront and when he played Michael Corleone again in The Godfather Part II, which was acclaimed as one of the finest films ever made, he had earned the title of a well respected actor. Next came Dog Day Afternoon, in which Pacino portrayed bank robber John Wojtowicz, a bi-sexual man.
He earned no less than four nominations at the Academy Awards for that performance. It was to be the early Eighties that would prove challenging until in 1983 when he was cast in Scarface which netted over $45 million at the box office and returned his faith in himself. After a short hiatus, he returned to making movies and in 1989 played opposite Ellen Barkin in Sea of Love. He followed with Dick Tracy but did not taste the ultimate success of an award until 1992 when he won an Oscar for his role in Scent of a Woman. From struggle in his early life to a position wherein he was able to choose and refuse parts in major films, he remained true to himself and gave integrity to those performances he did make in films such as Donnie Brasco and The Insider.
Although prolific as an actor, Pacino has remained a bachelor although his affairs were considered prominent as was his relationship with Diane Keaton. It was 2001 when he and Beverly D’Angelo had twins, a son Anton and a daughter, Olivia but their relationship floundered and D’Angelo moved to L.A. with their children. Al Pacino has a daughter, Julie Marie, from a previous relationship with Jan Tarrant but to date has never married.
Editor: Mike Carioscia
Dean Martin - 1917 - 1995
An Italian barber named Gaetano Alfonso Crocetti married an Italian-American girl named Angela Barra and together they had two sons. William (Bill) Crocetti was followed a few years later by his brother, Dino Paul Crocetti who was born in Steubenville, Ohio on June 7th 1917.
Both boys were brought up by strict but fair parents and it would be Dino who would lead a charmed life but not until he was well into his twenties. In an Italian speaking environment, young Dino fluently spoke in his mother's tongue until he was ready to go to school at five years old. He endured endless cruelty from the school bullies at Grant Elementary School who teased him due to his emphasized attempts at speaking English. He later quit high school and felt let down and uninspired and convinced he was a better teacher than those who taught him.
He turned to boxing and at 15 called himself “Kid Crochet” but his inexperience at sparring reaped him a broken nose, many broken and mangled knuckles and a scarred lip. In his typical nonchalant style he admitted to winning all but eleven of his twelve fights and sagely turned his back on boxing only to take up bootlegging instead. It was behind and old tobacco shop that he became involved in an illegal gambling casino but found himself to be a competent blackjack dealer. He also found enjoyment singing with some of the local bands and called himself 'Dino Martini' after the tenor Nino Martini but in the early 1940's while he sang for the popular band, the Sammy Watkins Orchestra, it was Watkins who suggested the name, Dean Martin.
Martin was married three times and fathered eight children. He was heard once to quip, “I've got seven kids. The three words you hear most around my house are, 'Hello', 'goodbye', and 'I'm pregnant'.”
By 1946 Martin's career was bountiful but he had unwittingly adopted Bing Crosby's technique and was yet to find his own 'voice'. When MGM and Columbia Pictures began to notice Dean Martin, he was blissfully unaware his big break was well on its way. Arriving in New York, he met hard working man named Jerry Lewis. It was with the comic he forged a deep friendship that would endure many years of insatiable humor. In the July of '46 they debuted together at the 500 club in Atlantic City. However, the owner, Skinny D'Amato unimpressed with their performances told them they'd better come up with a better act or they'd be fired.
The two men threw caution to the four winds and as Martin sang, Lewis deliberately lost his grip on several plates and had Martin chasing him across the stage. They had the audience breathless with laughter and while their subsequent acts had the two of them ad-libbing, Martin had a hard time singing while Lewis constantly disrupted and interrupted him. Their own act almost rendered them speechless, they were laughing so hard.
As a team, the pair were together for 11 years and starred in 16 movies that entertained multitudes of people across the globe. It was the eventual and inevitable ongoing personality clashes that severed the memorable team but even without Lewis, Martin's magic remained unstoppable and he went on to star in various films. But it was during the magical year of 1960, that one film in particular, “Ocean's Eleven” which also starred members of the renowned Rat Pack, became one of his most memorable.
It was time for a change and when Martin launched himself into a new, unorthodox career in 1965 it was in television. On the screen, before thousands of viewers, he hosted 'The Dean Martin Show', which became so successful he rode wave after rewarding wave through to 1973. Another change was imminent and this time he changed the show's name to 'The Dean Martin Comedy Hour'. It ran for ten years until once again it was renamed 'The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts' and its outstanding successes attracted many famous personalities including Bob Hope, Joe Namath and Frank Sinatra among others.
Dean Martin built a reputation as a man who was not complete without a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He would later be diagnosed with emphysema and lung cancer which would eventually claim his life at a relatively young 78 years. However he was often referred to as “the coolest man who ever lived,” and many people world wide hung on to Dean Martin's every smile. He was a magnificent singer whose voice oozed sensuality as he beguiled audience after audience with an aura of flippant nonchalance. After his amazing successes of the eighties, it became time for Martin to relax and he did until his son, Dean Paul Martin died in a plane crash in 1987. Overwhelmed by the shock, Martin would never be the same again. During a reunion tour in 1988 with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, he departed early due to health concerns and spent his final years in self induced solitary confinement. Dean Paul Martin died on Christmas Day 1995.
Writer: Judy Dick
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra - 1915 – 1998
On the 12th December 1915 a tiny Sagittarius with a perforated eardrum entered the American realm with a set of lungs that would later give him rise as one of the greatest singers of the twentieth century. Born to Anthony Sinatra, a New York fireman and Natalie (Dolly) Garavanta, a baby boy under the symbol of the archer would grow to attain a certain tenacity that would lead him toward audacious goals that held him captive until he conquered them. His aims remained high until at the age of 26 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour he was pronounced unfit to join the armed services during World War II when he went to enlist.
Not to be denied and having already tasted limited success as a member of a singing group named The Three Flashes, one of their first gigs was at the Hoboken Union Club where they were approached by Edward “Major” Bowes who heard great potential and asked Sinatra to perform in several of his promotional films he was conducting called 'Amateur Hour'. That opportunity became the chain linking many more as Sinatra sang in, and won first prize in a talent contest which led to a national tour. After the tour, Sinatra became a singing waiter for $15 per week at a small, though well known venue called the Rustic Cabin. The cabin had a telephone wired to the New York radio station WNEW. That opportunity was the crucial move he needed to get his wheels turning.
1940 rounded the corner and a skinny, not very tall, big eared kid with a captivating voice had his sights on capsizing the reign of Bing Crosby, a seductive crooner. First however, he needed to emulate the style and talent of a man whom he idolized; the trombone playing Tommy Dorsey. Both men with an equally ambitious aim to reign had the young Sinatra eventually going solo having learned all he needed about Dorsey; without pausing for another look over his shoulder.
With a voice that was still maturing and would continue to tempt and attract many who would emulate Sinatra long after his death, there wasn't another being on the planet who could woo the breath out of an audience. He had an indescribable voice that expressed what was in his heart and he delivered it effortlessly from his soul.
The night he toppled Crosby was the night Sinatra knew in his gut he would truly succeed. His new wife Nancy was not even privileged to the altitude of her husband's arrogance which had been borne from having struggled to gain the fundamentals of success. He was tired of singing for pennies in Irish and Italian social clubs, tired of being 'Just what we need for the next commercial'. He was a great vocalist and he inherently knew it.
Sinatra became known as “The Voice” and he capitalized on it. Yet although he had a voluptuous mouth and sapphire blue eyes, he had a way of charming others to beat people up for him in shameful acts of bullying. Perhaps it was his way of smothering the demons within for he also possessed an underlying fear of humiliation. With a volatile temper that would trip sporadically and open the gates for drinking sessions that would dilute the 'red' he often saw, Sinatra never lost sight of the bigger picture. He never lost sight of what he set out to achieve.
With a voice that smouldered like melting satin, he was not an operatic tenor with a huge undefinable ego but a man whose soulful address and respect for music remained unequalled until his death on 14th May 1998.
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