Who’s Who in Sicily….just dropping a few names

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Did you know that there are quite a few world famous film stars, directors, singers, writers, musicians and one footballer and fashion designer who were either born or have family connections here?   Here are some of them……..


Our 3 favourite Singers are:


  • No. 1 Ol’ Blue Eyes has to be Frank Sinatra whose grandfather emigrated at the beginning of the last century to the States from Lercara Friddi, in the Province of Palermo


  • Jazz/Soul singer Mario Biondi, who was born in Catania, and has that gorgeous sexy, gravelly voice, is probably better known in the States than he is here in Sicily


  • Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, otherwise known as Lady Gaga, activist and pop singer, had grandparents who came from Naso in the province of Messina.    She was recently looking for an adequate Sicilian male specimen who would be suitable to father a child for her.   Wonder if she found him?


Lady Gaga 


  •  Roberto Alagna, the opera singer, has Sicilian parents (but we can’t find out where they came from) who emigrated to France where he was born and where he is also extremely popular


…………..but the town of Polizzi Generosa holds the record for 3 big names who originated from there:


  • Martin Scorsese, the film director, had family who originated from here


  • Vincent Schiavelli, the actor who appeared in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Ghost (he was the very tall, creepy ghost guy on the subway in that film) actually returned from the USA to Polizzi to open up an actor’s school and also write a book about his mother’s favourite cooking recipes


  • Domenico Dolce, the Dolce of Dolce and Gabbana, hailed from this town.   Son of a tailor, he made his fortune in fashion when he paired up with Stefano Gabbana in Milan and established his world famous brand.   Much of their perfume advertising depicts the stereotype of the Sicilian woman – languid, provocative and all dressed in black – whilst the men are all very dark, broody and macho.




    Polizzi Generosa

Other actors and film directors include:


  • Al Pacino had a grandfather who came from San Fratello, in the province of Messina, and a grandmother from Corleone in the province of Palermo.   He was, of course, one of the terrific characters in The Godfather and sublime was his performance in Scent of a Woman, just to name a couple of his many films


  • John Travolta, had grandparents who emigrated to the USA in the early 20th century and came from Godrano, in the province of Palermo,  where a rather large number of locals claim to be related to him


  • The late Frank Capra, film director, was born in Bisacquino, in the province of Palermo and from where his famly emigrated to the USA in the early 1900s to escape the poverty on the island


  • Giuseppe Tornatore, the contemporary film director who comes from Bagheria, best known for his film Nuovo Cinema Paradiso,


Two writers who are internationally known are:


  • Luigi Pirandello who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1934  and came from Agrigento


  • Present day writer, Andrea Camilleri, whose series of  Inspector Montalbano books have been translated into 30 languages, the last of which was Korean

but there are, of course, many other Sicilian writers who have contributed greatly to Italian literature.


Vincenzo Bellini, the composer, was from Catania and Mario Balotelli, who all football fans will know and plays for Manchester United, was actually born in Palermo to Ghanian parents but was later adopted by the Balotelli family from Brescia.


Last but not least, the most famous mafioso of all time, Lucky Luciano, who came from Lercara Friddi like Frank Sinatra, but is better known for his collaboration during the 2nd World War, helping to organise the allied landings in Sicily through his connections on the island.

They all seem to have gone to the States but we know there are many Sicilians in Australia too and we are wondering who we have forgotten to include in this list from down under!

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