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Will The Real Italian American Actor Please Stand Up?
Continued from page 1
by Cookie Curci
One of TV's most prolific actors, during the golden age of television, was Anthony (Tony) Caruso. During TVs western genre, Caruso, the son of Italian immigrants, was cast in so many Native American roles, that most TV viewers believed the actor to be Native American.
Anthony Quinn is a vintage Hollywood actor with strong, ethnic, good looks commonly believed to be Italian American. His work with famous director Federico Fellini, and Italian born actresses Anna Magnani and Sophia Loren added to that belief. In realty, Quinn is of Mexican-Irish descent.
Everybody loves Raymond, especially Italian American TV viewers who can well relate to Ray's Italian American family, his brother Robert, his wife Debra, his father Frank and mother Marie. However, despite all the realism, Ray Romano is the only actor on the series who's heritage is Italian American. Henry Winkler did such a convincing job of acting like the cool, motorcycle riding "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on "Happy Days", that fans believed him to be Italian. Truth is, Winkler couldn't ride a motorcycle and he was no more Italian than Richie Cunningham.
Actor Ernest Borgnine won an Oscar for his portrayal of a lonely Italian American bachelor in the academy award winning film, "Marty". Borgnine whose family names are Borgnino - Bonselli has his family roots in Italy, but after "Marty", perhaps afraid of being typed cast, few of his roles reflected his Italian heritage. Most fans know him best as the comical Lt. Commander McHale from TV's "McHale's Navy" (1962-66).
Richard Crenna's looks and name never typed cast him. For that reason, few fans knew the actor was Italian American and that his parents came from Tuscany, Italy. His television character roles included Luke McCoy on TV's "The Real McCoys". And Walter Denton on the "Our Miss Brooks" series. But the role that brought him a unique cult following of fans was his characterization of Colonel Trautman in the film series "Rambo", starring Sylvester Stallone. Stallone like many of the current actors chose to light up the marquee with his original ethnic name.
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