Mario Lanza - Friday, November 20, 2015

The American Treasure Tour is located right next to Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania.  That makes us neighbors to Philadelphia.  There are many cool and important things about Philly that make it a worthy destination, and one of the more obscure ones is a museum dedicated to preserving the memory of Mario Lanza, a South Philly boy.  The Mario Lanza Institute and Museum is located at 712 Montrose Street.  Call before visiting, but make sure to check it out after a morning at the Treasure Tour.

Honestly, few people even remember Mario Lanza today.  Standing alongside such names as Pavarotti, Bocelli and and Domingo, Lanza stands as one of the most famous tenor singers to record his voice.  Today, we are going to  talk a little bit about Lanza, and one of his records on display in our Music Room, The Great Caruso.

Born Alfred Arnold Cocozza to Italian immigrants, he knew early on that his voice was special. He began singing as a teenager.  He adapted his mother's name - Maria Lanza - as his pseudonym, and was heralded as a magical singer by his twenty-first birthday.  Military service during World War II slowed down his rise to the top, which he achieved by the end of the 1940's both in movies and on vinyl.  Lanza not only broke sales records for his recordings, but starred in eight movies between 1949 and 1959.  One of his best known films was 1951's The Great Caruso, in which he portrayed his musical inspiration, Enrico Caruso.  The album on display in the Music Room preserves recordings of Lanza singing Caruso in what would be the first opera album to ever reach one million sales.  In 1959, Lanza died.  He was 38 years old. Lanza was a man of huge appetites, and his excessive eating and drinking led, it was believed at the time, to his fatal pulmonary embolism.
QUESTION:  What Peter Jackson film depicted a young Kate Winslet who was enamored with Mario Lanza?
A)  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
B)  Lovely Bones
C)  Heavenly Creatures
D)  Meet the Feebles
ANSWER BELOW

STAND DOWN!  The closest that the United States and the Soviet Union ever got to full-out nuclear war is considered to have been during what has become known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.  That happened in 1962, after Soviet missiles were discovered on Cuban land by American spy planes (did you follow that?).  President John F. Kennedy blockaded Cuba, Soviet Premier Kruschev got a little hot under the collar, and things were pretty tense.  Until today (fifty-three years ago).  The Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles so long as Kennedy removed missiles from Turkey (he did), and end the blockade.  The Cold War would continue for well over twenty more years, but it never got hotter again after that.  

AND SPEAKING OF THE KENNEDYS....  We are happy to recognize the birthday of John's younger brother Bobby today.  Born in 1925, he was appointed Attorney General by his brother, at the insistence of his dad.  What a nice 37th birthday present it must have been in 1962! 

QUOTE:  Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. - Bobby Kennedy

ANSWER:  C)  Heavenly Creatures