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MARIO LANZA, Tenor * 31 January 1921, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States + 7 October 1959, Rome, Italy;

31 Jan

Singer, Actor. First singer to earn Gold Records (over 1 million copies sold) in both classical and pop categories. Born Alfred Arnold Cocozza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he left high school early to work in his uncle’s grocery store, until he auditioned for a music scholarship in 1942. During World War II, he was drafted into the Army, and served until the end of the war. His wife, Betty Hicks Lanza, was the younger sister of his Army buddy, Bert Hicks, and they married shortly after Mario’s release from the Army; together they had four children: Colleen, Elisa, Damon, and Marc. In 1948, he signed with MGM, and his singing voice quickly brought him critical acclaim from both reviewers and fans alike. He adopted his stage name by masculinizing his mother’s maiden name, Maria Lanza. His first two films, “That Midnight Kiss” (1949) and “The Toast of New Orleans” (1950), teamed him with actress Kathryn Grayson, and was an overnight success. His next film, “The Great Caruso” (1951) was a perfect fit for his talent. His stardom was short-lived, however, as he reportedly had an overbearing sense of self-importance, and had trouble with alcohol and barbiturates, as well as a ballooning weight problem. In 1954, he was to star in the lead role of Prince Karl in “The Student Prince” but the role went to Edmund Purdom instead, although it is Lanza’s voice that does all of the singing. As his weight continued to cost him roles, he decided to move to Italy for a fresh start and to find new film roles. While filming “The Seven Hills of Rome” (1958) and “For the First Time” (1959) in Rome, Italy, he undertook a rigorous diet, using barbiturates to help him lose weight, which contributed to his heart attack and death at age 38. His wife, shattered by his death, died five months later. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)

Image result for Mario Lanza

Image result for Mario Lanza

Image result for Mario Lanza

Kathryn Grayson  Mario Lanza:

Kathryn Grayson and Mario Lanza

Image result for mario lanza

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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Tenors

 

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