Mario Lanza *

Mario Lanza *

Mario Lanza, born Alfredo Cocozza in 1921, of
immigrant parents from Abruzzi, Italy, lived
long enough to thrill us all, until his death in

Italy in 1959. His teachers at Southern are re-
ported to have said that he would rather sing

than study; well, for him, his singing was his
homework, which he did quite well. Some said

that Mario was the “new Caruso,” and Holly-
wood moguls thought that he would become the

singing Clark Gable. Others called him the

“crossover artist supreme” because of his mu-
sical versatility. Mario, of course, portrayed En-
rico Caruso in the astonishingly successful

movie, The Great Caruso. Enrico Caruso, Jr,
who was an excellent tenor himself, said in
1987 that Mario had “… qualities that few

singers are born with and others can never at-
tain.” He also stated in his book that “Lanza ex-
celled in both the classical and the light popular

repertory, an accomplishment that was beyond
even my father’s exceptional talents.” He was
the first RCA Victor Red Seal artist to win a
gold disc and the first artist to sell 2 1/2 million
albums. Mario was awarded two stars on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame for recording and for
motion pictures.