I am so appreciative of the skills and conversations everybody continually brings to the table and shares about Lanza and a thousand other interesting and related topics.
Hi Lee Ann: You stated “Steinman seems sophisticated, extraordinarily intelligent, certainly well-connected--and yet someone who never lost a certain humanity, an ability to relate to people, and a realistic view of his world.” He was all of those, as well as a lovely person who provided me with invaluable information on Lanza and those associated with him. Steinman not only made himself available at a time when he was far from well, but he also went out of his way to supply me with names and arrange appointments. He made a tremendous contribution to my Lanza biography, and I’ll be forever grateful to him.
Meeting him was definitely one of the high points of my research, not only for the help he freely gave me, but because he came across as a truthful, sincere friend of Lanza who, while not minimizing Mario’s faults or problems didn’t paint a negative picture of the man for the sake of sensationalism.
There were numerous others who were both pleasant and informative, first and foremost the actor Barry Nelson. Naturally, there were also a number of low points- none lower than Robinson, and Teitelbaum, two truly despicable individuals, followed closely by Callinicos, Mrs. Moricca, and to a certain extent,Weiler.
I’ve often asked myself how Lanza could have put his trust in some the above mentioned, and the only answer I can come up with was provided by Steinman himself who told me “ He was just like a little boy.” An opinion shared by many, among them Dr Stradone, who added “He was a very soft , sensitive person ….. very emotional but capable of formidable tenderness, as I’ve often witnessed in his behavior with his wife and children.”
This was a person without a hint of malice who believed in the good side of people and, as a consequence, trusted those that professed to be his “friends” but who in truth were out to use him for all they could.
[I]n the story, Mr. Teitelbaum (“the furtive furrier”) is “broke,” so he stages “a fake fur heist to get some insurance money.” The heist of Tijuana, Mon Amour -which Mr. Ellroy manages to set up in such a way that it involves Sammy Davis Jr. and a syringe full of LSD-takes place on the same date, Dec. 27, 1955, on which the real-life Mr. Teitelbaum committed the crime involving a false insurance claim that sent him to jail. As part of the fictional plan, Linda Lansing was to sell the furs-”fence” them, in the Ellroy lingo-south of the border.
In the May 20 lawsuit, Mr. Teitelbaum asserted that he “has never met either Barbara Graham or Linda Lansing, has never lain in a bed with either or both of those women; has never been photographed with either or both or those women; has never used any woman by the name of Linda Lansing to advertise his furs, nor has he ever engaged in any arrangement to have his furs transported to any ‘fence’ for stolen furs … nor was he ‘broke’ at that time.”
[Teitelbaum's lawyer] Mr. Morgan-who won a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court early on in the Malcolm case, setting down that misquotation can be libelous-elaborated in an interview: “There are basically two issues. They’ve got him in bed with Barbara Graham, who was executed for murder here, so she was a real person, and Linda Lansing, who we don’t know if she was real or not. Which is totally false and outrageous, really. They have him broke and sending her down to fence furs in Tijuana. None of which ever happened. And none of which anyone ever said happened.”
But Mr. Teitelbaum was no saint: In 1956, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit grand theft, attempted grand theft and the presentation of a false insurance claim. He spent six months in Los Angeles County Jail. Since then, his court papers insist, Mr. Teitelbaum “has lived a quiet life avoiding notoriety.” His lawyer said he “had grandchildren who didn’t even know about it. It was really very devastating to him. He has lived an exemplary life since then … He’s 84. He didn’t need this at the end of his life.”
I finally had the time to read your interview with Sam Steinman and Steinman’s remark about Mario’s voice being able to “shatter a glass with the sharpness of a high note” caught my attention immediately.
In his autobiography “Atze Brauner – Mich gibt’s nur einmal“ Arthur Brauner (CCC Berlin- he’s mentioned in the Steinman interview too) , who was to produce Mario’s next film “Granada” (co-star: Catherina Valente) Brauner describes his first encounter with Mario Lanza at the “Cavalieri Hilton” in Rome and at the Villa Badoglio (not all remarks are nice!) and mentions the following (translated by me from German):
“[…] He gets three big wine glasses […] and puts them on the mantelpiece: “Now I am showing you what my voice is able to do.” He concentrates, he takes a deep breath and he sings. He sings with an elemental force, and there’s a bright high C ringing through the room, endlessly, endlessly. And suddenly something phantasmal happens: The wine glasses start crackling and cracking and finally shatter. The pieces of broken glass fall to the ground.”
I look at him, mesmerized. "That's nothing." he dismisses, "That's nothing at all. Ask Frank Sinatra, I shattered his mirror with my singing."
I’m afraid I’m a doubting Thomas when it comes to this sort of thing. In the early 50s Hedda Hopper claimed that she dared Lanza to smash one of her mirrors with a high note and that much to her surprise he did exactly that.
According to the laws of physics, while in theory it’s possible to achieve such a feat it’s also highly unlikely.
You can read more about it on this link:
Dear Derek,Great information.Thanks again for all your hard work.
Simply phenomenal,and an invaluable addition to the Lanza site.
Brilliant work by Derek and Lee Ann and important contributions by Steff.
Thank you to all concerned!
I would like to personally thank Manfred Thönicke from Hamburg who runs "The Ray Conniff Page" fan website
and who helped us to locate a photo of Jaqueline/Jackie Allen (the soprano who sang the
'Ave Maria' with Mario in "The Great Caruso."
I contacted Mr Thönicke last Sunday, and he got back to me immediately. Mr Thönicke
provided me with the beautiful picture that Derek now has included to Jacqueline's mini-biography on the "Musical Who is Who page".
Jackie Allen was a member of the "Ray Conniff Singers," and this is what Mr Thönicke remarked about her:
"She was a lovely person. I met her several times. She was humorous and warm-hearted.
Ray Conniff engaged her because she could sing the high notes without sounding shrill."
Mr Thönicke also sent another photo of Jackie which I have attached to my post, and he remarked:
"That is a photo that is characteristic for her as its shows her charming charisma and her grace."
Hi Lee Ann: I'm so glad you're enjoying the resource. It's been such fun adding to it (almost on a daily basis)---in fact, we're up to 36 conductors now, and no doubt more will be identified soon! Then there are all the singers, accompanists, arrangers and other personalities, including (as you pointed out) the wonderful coach Leila Edwards and her colleague Armando Agnini. My thanks to all those who have emailed with suggestions for further entries.
For me, one of the biggest surprises was learning that Emanuel Balaban had conducted Lanza in four concerts in 1947 (three in June and one in October)---and that soprano Carolyn Long had been the co-performer at all of them. That makes Balaban the person who conducted Lanza at more concerts than anyone else, and Long the tenor's second most-frequent soprano partner after Frances Yeend in terms of his concert career. (Of course, Mario sang more often in public with Kathryn Grayson, but the 1948 Hollywood Bowl concert aside, their appearances together were limited to one or two numbers in promotion of That Midnight Kiss, as opposed to full concerts.)
Another generally overlooked artist is Josef (Joseph) Blatt, who accompanied not only the Bel Canto Trio throughout their ten-month tour, but Lanza at some of his solo concerts, together with his appearance in Quebec in October 1947 with soprano Agnes Davis. Even by conservative estimates, that makes Blatt the pianist who accompanied Lanza on more occasions than anyone else---and yet he's never received the attention lavished on, say, Callinicos. But given that Blatt was also the Bel Canto Trio's vocal coach, his role in Lanza's musical development was obviously an important one. We only need to listen to the 1947 Hollywood Bowl concert or the 1948 Toronto arias to appreciate how far Lanza had come stylistically in only a few years, and Blatt surely deserves some credit for being such a positive influence.
I plan to keep expanding many of the entries (as well as adding new ones). As one who hated film writer Leslie's Halliwell's terse one-sentence summation of Lanza's life in The Filmgoer's Companion ("American opera singer, popular in MGM musicals until overcome by a weight problem"), I certainly want to avoid committing a similar injustice to the many super-gifted individuals described in our Who's Who!
Glad you like the new feature. It was fun putting it together.
The Marshall Field photo (a cropped version of which is next to Albert P. Stewart's entry in our Musical Who's Who section, by the way) was courtesy of Armando. I first saw this pic in the booklet to the LP Mario Lanza: The Legendary Tenor, but Armando's version seems to be of better quality. Yes, it's a great shot!
Incidentally, I've added yet another conductor---Max Reiter---to our Who's Who. That now brings the total to 37.
Hi Derek: Actually, I have to thank Muriel (where are you?) for the Marshall Field photo which she sent me some time back. As Steff pointed out, it’s a particularly interesting one and it’s hanging along with others that you have seen in the music room where you spent a few nights when you were here.
Two new articles have just been posted on our main site:
The first is an interview by Steff Walzinger with German journalist Alexander Kulpok. Back in November 1958, Mr. Kulpok met Mario Lanza during the filming of the "Ave Maria" scene in For the First Time. His reminiscences (in response to some very intelligent and wide-ranging questions from Steff) of his time with Lanza are fascinating.
I was especially interested in Kulpok's recollection of Mario's response to the question of performing on stage (and this neatly ties in with the article below). Lanza's acknowledgement of the demands that giving his all in opera would place on him, far from ruling out a return to the stage (as some will no doubt crow), reveals a realistic man under no illusions about the challenges he believed were still ahead.
Thank you very much, Steff, for this article---and thanks also to the British Mario Lanza Society (which first published it) for allowing us to reproduce it here:
The second article is a response by Armando Cesari to an article by Derek Mannering that recently appeared in the Legacy Of Mario Lanza newsletter. In his article, Mr. Mannering again seeks to make the case that Mario Lanza was never serious about an operatic career, and implies that the tenor was a lazy artist whose own recording company saw him as an operatic lightweight. (This is actually the second time that Mannering has written an essay on this subject.) In Mannering's view, we should be celebrating the singer of "Arrivederci Roma" and "The Loveliest Night of the Year," not an "operatic superstar" who never was. (For good measure, he mocks fans who talk of Lanza's recording of the Otello Monologue in the same breath as Domingo's or Del Monaco's.) If you've ever scratched your head as to why Mannering has relentlessly emphasized the pure pop side of Lanza in his numerous CD compilations---disappointing many music lovers (and non-aficionados) in the process---this article is illuminating.
Since Mannering's article strikes at the very heart of Lanza's worth as an artist, and is also clearly a commentary on views expressed on this forum, Armando has decided to respond to its assertions on our main site:
Many thanks to Steff and Armando for these articles. And my gratitude, as always, to Lee Ann for formatting them so beautifully.
Hello to all,
Maybe some of you remember my interview with the Berlin journalist Alexander Kulpok in which we talked about his encounter with Mario Lanza during the filming of „For the First Time.“ Alexander Kulpok was 19, when he met Mario at the filming set in Berlin.
Last year he published a book titled „SFB mon amour,“ the story about the SFB (Sender Freies Berlin), a big broadcasting company, for which he worked. I managed to see into a few pages of the book and was delighted to see that he mentioned, if only brief, his meeting with Mario. He also printed a photo of him with Mario.
Let me quote from Alexander Kulpok’s book:
„Früher oder später bastelt sich jede/r Reporter/in in Gedanken ein Ranking, eine Sympathieskala der von ihm oder ihr interviewten Personen. Wer war bescheiden, freundlich, umgänglich, intelligent, verständnisvoll, aufgeschlossen und hat dadurch maßgeblich zum Gelingen des journalistischen Produkts beigetragen? Neben Mario Lanza, James Mason, Walter Gropius, Marlene Dietrich und Werner Finck und Peter Ustinov steht da Erich Segal, der Autor der ‚Love Story,‘ ganz oben.“
„Sooner or later each reporter thinks about creating a ranking, a scale of sympathy regarding those people he interviewed. Was he/she modest, nice, affable, intelligent, understanding, open, and did he/she thus contribute essentially to the success of the journalistic product? Besides Mario Lanza, James Mason, Walter Gropius, Marlene Dietrich and Werner Finck and Peter Ustinov Erick Segal, author of the ‚Love Story,‘ is at the very top.“ [translation by Steff]