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Mario Lanza

Biography

Opera tenor who acted in 1940s Hollywood films just like the Great Caruso and who performed in the opera Madame Butterfly in New Orleans. He was provided a full scholarship or grant towards the Berkshire Music Middle after impressing Serge Koussevitzky. His film debut is at the 1949 film That Midnight Kiss. He wedded Elizabeth Jeannette “Betty” Hicks on Apr 12, 1945 and got four kids with her. Lanza’s music and persona had been found in Heavenly Creatures, the 1994 film by Peter Jackson.

Quick Facts


Full Name Mario Lanza
Date Of Birth January 31, 1921
Died October 7, 1959, Rome, Italy
Place Of Birth Philadelphia, PA
Height 1.72 m
Profession Opera Singer
Nationality American
Spouse Betty Lanza
Children Colleen Lanza, Marc Lanza, Damon Lanza, Elisa Lanza
Parents Maria Lanza, Antonio Cocozza
Music Groups Bel Canto Trio
Nominations NME Award for Favourite US Male Singer
Movies That Midnight Kiss, The Toast of New Orleans, The Great Caruso, Because You're Mine, The Student Prince, Serenade, Seven Hills of Rome, For the First Time, Mario Lanza
Star Sign Aquarius

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 1751 Vine Street and for Motion Pictures at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
2According to Hedda Hopper's Hollywood (radio show broadcast February 11, 1951), he was playing semi-pro football in Scranton, Pennsylvania in the 1940s. Scranton named February 15, Mario Lanza Day.
3In 1951, his salary was $800,000.
4Legally changed his name from Alfredo Cocozza to Mario Lanza in 1948, just before he signed with MGM.
5Soprano Maria Callas (who was not known for her praise of contemporary singers) is on record as calling Lanza "Caruso's successor," and in a 1973 interview said of him: "My biggest regret is not to have had the opportunity of singing with the greatest tenor voice I've ever heard."
6Although greatly admired by generations of opera stars, including Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras and Roberto Alagna, Lanza himself only performed two operatic roles on stage - Fenton in Nicolai's "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at the Berkshire Festival in Tanglewood, and Lt. Pinkerton in Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" for the New Orleans Opera Association. He received rave reviews for both efforts, with Noel Straus of the New York Times hailing him as having "few equals among tenors of the day in terms of quality, warmth and power." He sang over 150 concerts in his brief career, and at the time of his death had agreed to appear in the 1960-1961 Rome Opera season as Canio in "Pagliacci".
7As one of the first students at Tanglewood in the early 1940s, he was certainly in distinguished company. His fellow students during that period included Leonard Bernstein, conductor/impresario Sarah Caldwell, composer/conductor Lukas Foss and teacher/composer/conductor Frederick Fennell, to name but a few.
8Much has been made of the influence Lanza has had on contemporary tenors such as Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti, but an apocryphal story has followed Lanza through his career and beyond. The famous Italian tenor Enrico Caruso died in 1921. Lanza was born in 1921. Superstition prompts fans to believe that the newborn Mario inherited the voice of the expired Enrico. To support this myth, most critics during Lanza's life espoused the belief that Lanza's vocal range and quality were on a par with no other singer but Caruso.
9Took as his professional name a variation on his mother's name. He substituted the masculine Mario for the feminine Maria and used her maiden name of Lanza as his surname.
10Brother-in-law of actor Bert Hicks.
11Uncle of Dolores Hart.
12As Enrico Caruso was a major influence on Lanza, Lanza has been a major influence on the generation of tenors who came after him. Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Andrea Bocelli, and Jerry Hadley all credit Lanza as an inspiration to them in pursuing their chosen careers.
13A rarity in that he was a best-selling classical artist, Lanza's many recordings on RCA Victor Red Seal--most notably "Be My Love", The Great Caruso (1951) soundtrack album and "Christmas Hymns and Carols"--were top-sellers at the time and have continued to enjoy consistent sales, more than four decades after his premature death.
14A minor uproar once resulted when Lanza went on an early '50s TV show and lip-synched to one of his hit songs rather than singing live. (This was not done in the early days of TV).
15He began filming The Student Prince (1954) playing Prince Karl, but his weight problems and fiery temperament got him fired. Edmund Purdom starred in the role, lip-synching to Lanza.
16Lanza had four children with his wife Betty: Colleen - a screenwriter, died of a road accident in 1997; Elisa - a housewife with two sons, Damon - had dabbled in restaurant and motorcycle business; Marc - died of a heart attack in 1993 at age 37
17His wife, Betty, was the sister of Lanza's army buddy. He was interested in her picture, and the buddy introduced them.


Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Walk On2014TV Movie documentary performer: "You'll Never Walk Alone"
Mike & Mike2014TV Series performer - 1 episode
Pop Charts Britannia: 60 Years of the Top 102012TV Movie documentary performer: "The Loveliest Night of the Year"
Banda sonora2012TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Darkness II2012Video Game performer: "Vesti La Giubba"
Formula 1: BBC Sport2011TV Series performer - 1 episode
Miss Bala2011performer: "Ave Maria"
FringeTV Series performer - 1 episode, 2009 writer - 1 episode, 2009
Tapped2009/IDocumentary performer: "Drink, Drink, Drink From "The Student Prince""
Zodiac2007performer: "Arrivederci, Roma"
The Polar Express2004performer: "Deck the Halls"
Soft Toilet Seats1999performer: "Be My Love"
That Old Feeling1997performer: "O Sole Mio"
Tierische Liebe1996Documentary performer: "La donna è mobile"
Heavenly Creatures1994performer: "Be My Love", "The Donkey Serenade", "Funiculi, Funicula", "The Loveliest Night of the Year", "You'll Never Walk Alone"
Only the Lonely1991performer: "SORRENTO"
Next of Kin1989performer: "Serenade"
Bird1988performer: "Be My Love"
Rosso1985"Fenesta ca lucive"
That's Entertainment!1974performer: "Be My Love" 1950 - uncredited
For the First Time1959performer: "Come Prima For the First Time", "Pineapple Picker", "Ave Maria" uncredited, "O Sole Mio" uncredited, "La donna e mobile" uncredited, "Bella Figlia del'Amore" uncredited, "Death Scene" uncredited, "Celeste Aida" uncredited, "Vesti la giubba" uncredited, "Ich Liebe Dich" uncredited
Seven Hills of Rome1957performer: "Arrividerci Roma", "Vogliamoci tanto bene" uncredited
Serenade1956performer: "Nessun dorma" uncredited, "Dio Ti Giocondi" uncredited, "Serenade", "My Destiny", "Il Mio Tesoro" uncredited, "Ave Maria" uncredited, "Lamento di Federico" uncredited, "Di Quella Pira" uncredited, "Italian Tenor Aria"uncredited, "Torna a Surriento" uncredited, "O Paradiso" uncredited, "O Soave Fanciulla" uncredited
The Student Prince1954performer: "Deep In My Heart, Dear", "Serenade", "I'll Walk with God", "Beloved", "Summertime in Heidelberg", "Golden Days", "Just We Two"
Because You're Mine1952performer: "Because You're Mine", "Questa o quella" uncredited, "You Do Something To Me" uncredited, "Granada" uncredited, "The Lord's Prayer" uncredited
The Great Caruso1951performer: "Magnificat", "'A Vucchella", "La Danza", "The Consecration Scene", "Trio Finale", "Celeste Aida", "In Questa Tomba", "The Torture Scene", "E Lucevan le Stelle", "The Villification Scene", "Brindisi", "Cielo e Mar", "La Donna e Mobile", "Torna a Surriento", "Che Celida Manina", "Mattinata", "Miserere", "Quartet", "Sweethearts", "Recitativo", "Vesti la Giubba", "Ave Maria", "Sextette", "Because", "M'Appari", "Finale" - uncredited
The Toast of New Orleans1950performer: "Be My Love" - uncredited
That Midnight Kiss1949performer: "Una furtiva lagrima", "Celeste Aida" - uncredited

Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
For the First Time1959Tonio Costa
Seven Hills of Rome1957Marc Revere
Serenade1956Damon Vincenti
Shower of Stars1954TV Series
The Student Prince1954Prince Karl (singing voice)
Because You're Mine1952Renaldo Rossano
The Great Caruso1951Enrico Caruso
The Toast of New Orleans1950Pepe Abellard Duvalle
That Midnight Kiss1949Johnny Donnetti
Winged Victory1944Chorus Member (uncredited)

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Mario Lanza: The Best of Everything2017Himself
Great Performances2015TV SeriesHimself - archive film footage
The Ed Sullivan Show1958TV SeriesHimself
Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium1957TV SeriesHimself - Top Of The Bill
Today1957TV SeriesHimself
Shower of Stars1954TV SeriesHimself
The Jackie Gleason Show1952TV SeriesHimself - Film Clip

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Pappano's Classical Voices2015TV Series documentaryHimself
100 Years of the London Palladium2010TV Movie documentaryHimself
Legends2007TV Series documentaryHimself
Paul Merton's Palladium Story1994TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
Without Walls1992TV Series documentary
That's Entertainment!1974Clip from 'Toast of New Orleans'
The Ed Sullivan Show1959TV SeriesHimself
Alan Melville Takes You from A-Z1959TV SeriesExcerpt from The Seven Hills of Rome
Six-Five Special1958TV SeriesExcerpt from The Seven Hills of Rome
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Story1951Documentary
Moments in Music1950Documentary shortHimself, film clip (uncredited)
Some of the Best: Twenty-Five Years of Motion Picture Leadership1949Documentary shortHimself (uncredited)

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameMotion PictureOn 8 February 1960. At 6821 Hollywood Blvd.
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameRecordingOn 8 February 1960. At 1751 Vine Street
1952Sour AppleGolden Apple AwardsLeast Cooperative Actor
1952Most Popular Male StarPhotoplay AwardsThe Great Caruso (1951)

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1959GrammyGrammy AwardsBest Soundtrack Album, Original Cast - Motion Picture or TelevisionFor the First Time (1959)

TitleSalary
Serenade (1956)$150,000

#Quote
1I sing each word as though it were my last on earth.
2All my life I liked fun. I'm young and alive. I like people with heart. Even today when people get gloomy around me, I swear in high C and say, 'Let's get going ... you're fracturing me with this misery!'
3I sing from the heart... I sing the words of a song and really feel them, from the top of my head to the tip of my toes... I sing as though my life depends on it, and if I ever stop doing that then I'll stop living


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