Friday, April 15, 2011

(M) Mario Lanza

Mario Lanza was born Alfred Arnold Cocozza in Philadelphia on January 31, 1921. Mario comes from his mothers name which was Maria, Lanza was her maiden name. I was never a fan of opera. One day I was flipping through the channels and I came across this handsome man singing opera. He was singing something by Enrico Caruso in the film. The film was called The Great Caruso. The name Enrico Caruso wasn't foreign to me, however, I didn't care about opera, but I watched the movie because I was mesmerized by this man.

Beautiful voice

Beautiful face

It was an interesting movie and it held my attention, then this man started to sing Vesti la Giubba, a famous tenor aria from the opera Pagliacci. Enrico Caruso made it famous with a recording in 1904, which was the first million selling record in history. I heard bits and pieces of this song in the past, but the way Mario Lanza sounded blew me away. I haven't heard a version I like better, not even Placido sings it like Mario.

After watching this film, I had to find out what other movies Mario Lanza had made and what other music had he performed.

Winged Victory, 1944 (uncredited chorus member)

That Midnight Kiss, 1949

The Toast of New Orleans, 1950

The Great Caruso, 1951

Because You're Mine, 1952

The Student Prince, 1954 (singing voice only)

Serenade, 1956

Seven Hills of Rome, 1958

For the First Time, 1959

The one's I saw are in red. He was an OK actor, I think if he had time, he could have developed into one of the greats. Unfortunatley, he would not get that chance.

In April 1959, Lanza suffered a minor heart attack, followed by double pneumonia in August. He died in Rome in October of that year at the age of 38 from a pulmonary embolism after undergoing a controversial weight loss program colloquially known as "the twilight sleep treatment," which required its patients to be kept immobile and sedated for prolonged periods.

Betty, his widow, moved back to Hollywood (from Rome) with their four children, but died five months later at the age of 37 (Drug OD).

Does this story get happier? Nope. In 1991, Marc, the younger of their two sons, died of a heart attack at the age of 37; six years later, Colleen, their elder daughter, was killed at the age of 48 when she was struck by two passing vehicles on a highway. Damon Lanza, the couple's eldest son, died in August 2008 of a heart attack at the age of 55.

Elisa is the only child still living.


Arlee Bird said...

Now here's a name you don't hear all that much these days. I do recall seeing the Caruso movie a couple of years ago. I think my parents probably took me to see Seven Hills of Rome when I was a kid. I remember that my father really liked the song "Arrivederci Roma" and would sing it while he was driving.
Great memories!

Tossing It Out

Nan said...

Gosh, I haven't thought of him in ages. He was big when I was a girl. What a tragic, tragic family story. Utterly horrible. Thanks for this nice recognition of the man.

Karen Walker said...

What a tragedy for the entire family to go, except one. I remember seeing a movie with Mario Lanza when I was a little girl. My grandmother took me to Radio City Music Hall to see it. He had an incredible voice. A true loss.
Nice to "meet" you on this a-z challenge.