While reading "He Leaves His Heart in Rome" (1955), one of the article reprints in the August issue, we stumbled across this little gem:
"Hundreds of perfumed letters, throbbing with daring declarations of love and longing, pour in daily at Rossano's apartment in Rome. Most of them come from America. One woman, the mother of three children, was inspired to pen him the following verse: "God made wine, God made cheese, God made Rossano for me to squeeze."
Now .... far be it from us to ridicule the heartfelt outpourings of love and devotion from our fellow admirers. Heaven forbid we should do such a thing. After all, if God himself isn't rolling around in the clouds, moaning, "Oy! That's the worst poem I ever heard!", why should we? (Actually, we figure he must quite tolerant of these things, given how much really, really bad poetry there is in the world. And besides, making wine and cheese and "squeezeable Italian men" probably consumes a lot of his time.)
But, we do intend to prove that our admiring fellow American - whoever she may have been - was not alone in her quest to compose the World's Worst Ode to Rossano Brazzi. If she could honor him with poetry this bad - WHY CAN'T WE??? And the answer is: we certainly can and we will - and to that end we are proud to introduce the "First Annual (and on-going) Really, REALLY Bad Poetry Contest". Don't worry, this is an easy contest, with only two requirements: (1) the poem has to be in honor of Rossano Brazzi, and (2) the poem has to be "really, REALLY bad !" It doesn't even have to be written in English! (Though we'd be forever grateful if you'd also provide a general translation ...)
Deadline: compose the worst poem you can think of in honor of Rossano Brazzi, and mail it to us ... we'll publish the awful results in the next issue of the newsletter. Have fun!!!
Well, first, you probably need to be a man, and second, you'll need lots and lots and LOTS of money, but most importantly, you need to hunt down Angelo Litrico's shop, Litrico's, at Via Sicilia 51, near the legendary Via Veneto in Rome. His brief on-line history includes the following paragraph:
"One evening, Angelo went to the Opera, wearing a tuxedo which was noticed by Rossano Brazzi, who subsequently became Angelo's first important customer. With time, Angelo's customer base increased and soon he was able to buy out the small workshop which he would never abandon."
Litrico, by the way, led an interesting life. Rossano was his first important customer, but he went on to to originate the idea of fashion shows for men, "and to couple menswear with female garments already being presented by the big fashion houses in the 50's". In 1959, he created a wardrobe for Nikita Kruschev which included the famous shoe banged on the United Nations podium. His other customers included entertainment celebrities such as Rossano and international Heads of State: Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, and King Hussein of Jordan, among others. Angelo Litrico died in 1986, but his brother Franco and sister Giusi continue his work.
And even if you can't afford the clothes, you can at least walk up and down the Via Sicilia and steam up Angelo's windows, trying to peek inside ...! On the other hand, if you can't even afford to visit Rome, much less afford to dress with the style, finesse and sophistication of Rossano Brazzi, you can peek in the windows of their shop, via their web page, located at http://www.italianstyle.it/moda/litrico.htmReturn to top of page
Surely you're heard of the three college students who actually developed a theory that every actor or actress born in the last fifty years was professionally connected, within 6 degrees of separation, from actor Kevin Bacon -- which basically means that a maximum of six "he worked with X, who worked with X who worked with X"s separated Kevin Bacon from every other American actor in the business.
So far, they haven't been stumped (they've even managed to connect "Lassie" with Kevin Bacon within 6 films!) -- but, of course, we were only interested in Rossano Brazzi, who, we learned, is in the B3 category, which means he was three films away from working with Kevin Bacon. He ranks higher (that is, closer to Kevin Bacon) than Frank Sinatra, Rudolph Valentino and Marilyn Monroe (all B4's), and shares the B3 category with such other handsome hunks as: Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Pierce Brosnan, Fess Parker, Gene Kelly and Patrick Stewart.
But before we all get too overly impressed with ourselves, they all also share the B3 category with that other fiery hunk - Godzilla. So there you go. Doubt their theory?
"ROSSANO BRAZZI was in Krakatoa, East of Java with MAXIMILIAN SCHELL, who was in The Freshman with MATTHEW BRODERICK, who was in She's Having A Baby, with ... KEVIN BACON!"
They're on the Web, under "The Baconsortium's Assorted Triumphs".Return to top of page
Luckily for all of us, her most recent movie (in 1952) was none other than "La donna che inventò l'amore" (The Woman Who Invented Love"), and as it turns out, her co-star, co-inventor and co-kisser happens to be none other than ... yup, you guessed it! But oddly enough, although Silvana is the one giving the instructions, Rossano seems to be the one doing most of the work -- it seems, according to Sylvana, that unlike many other men, Rossano knew what he was doing when it came to kissing a woman properly.
Now this may not be news to us, but in 1952, most of America was familiar with Rossano only in the role of the shy, somewhat timid Professor Baer in his Little Women debut. So, it had to be something of a surprise to discover that the Professor was fully capable of teaching Little Women much more than the fine points of literature ...! And according to this, his Kissing Repertoire contained at least three varieties: (1) the "He-Man Kiss", (2) the "Strangler", and (3) the "Kiss the Wife Before Leaving for Work" kiss.
The "He-Man" is probably the most painful, but Sylvana has awarded him high marks for gripping her arm with such force that he leaves his fingerprints imbedded in her skin. No, those aren't smudges on her upper arm, or a shadow in the newsprint ... those dark bruises are the imprints of his fingers, folks! (Ouch.)
The "Strangler's Kiss", although possibly rather dangerous, is interesting -- this one involves the delicate art of pretending to choke her while simultaneously distracting her with a passionate kiss and murmuring such endearments as, "Forget your lines one more time and I'll ..." and the like. And lastly ...
... the "Kiss the Wife Before Leaving for Work" kiss, which caused a good number of married women we know with full time and grueling careers to burst into hysterical laughter and roll around on the floor giggling uncontrollably.
But even more interesting, at least from a historical perspective, is that, judging by that final photo, it was in fact Rossano Brazzi (and not Mister Spock, despite what your friendly neighborhood "Trekkie" says), who first employed the use of the powerful "Vulcan neck pinch" to control either the uncooperative alien or, in this case, the feisty wife ...
Unfortunately, we cannot even begin to explain the "Suck On the Apple From Both Sides" Kiss, except to say that we're sure it involves some sort of "Adam and Eve"/"Fall from Grace,"/"Woman is the root of all evil" symbolism that we're not even remotely prepared to discuss in this forum, thank you very much.
NOTE: this is also one of the few times Rossano exchanged "The Ring" (the huge one he always wore on his little finger, no matter what role he was playing) for a simple gold wedding band (bottom left, second page). And now ... about that bow tie ...
Article from Night and Day, June 1952.
Return to top of page
Just when we thought we had cornered the market on Rossano Brazzi fandom here in the U.S., something wonderful happens! From the J. Peterman & Company Catalog, in a jacket description:
"He works in Milan; drives a magnesium-bodied Bugatti to his house in Bergamo on weekends. Other weekends he flies a bi-wing to Corsica. In the city, he's the Rossano Brazzi of banking. Everyone uses his title. In Bergamo everyone calls him "Pippo" and kisses him a hundred times. The women stand very close and put their hands inside his pockets. He's going to hate it when he sees I'm offering his jacket."
No, we're not exactly sure what the "Rossano Brazzi of banking" means, but if it involves kissing him a hundred times and putting our hands inside his pockets ... oooh, it sounds lovely! So we all ordered copies of the catalog and thanked Mr. Peterman for including our hero in his copy ... now, if he'd only make some women's clothes and mention Rossano in the description, he could claim early retirement on the profits from that sale alone!
Model Elle McPherson was the guest host of a recent Saturday Night Live performance - one skit they performed involved a hostile feminist sort trying to get the "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue" banned as being sexist, demeaning to women, and ... well, in really poor taste and having nothing whatsoever to do with sports. The title of the skit? "The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue That Almost Wasn't"!! Gee, what an innovative title - wonder which one of the SNL writers is a secret Rossano Brazzi fan?
Joseph Mascolo, the very popular actor who plays the character of Stefano, said in a recent Soap Opera Digest that he developed his character's entire arsenal of continental charm and suave appeal (not to mention the accent) by watching South Pacific and Summertime and imitating Rossano Brazzi! (We knew there was a reason the character was so popular ...!)Return to top of page
Actually, if truth be told, the press release that accompanied "The Final Conflict" is one of our favorites.
"A sex-crazed mob of women once ripped off all of his clothes in Venice. A rich Mexican woman offered two million dollars to his wife if she would "sell" him to her. Recently on Italian television, it was said he has slept with more than two thousand women.
Rossano Brazzi does not deny it. His current role in 20th Century-Fox's epic chiller, "The Final Conflict" is a far cry from the Latin Lover image he's built up over 35 years and in some 230 starring film roles. (Ed Note: 230???? Oh god, we're STILL missing some!! *sob!*)
... Today, about 60, still the slim welterweight he was at 25, Brazzi can philosophically reflect on his life and loves. "With my long life, and after all my experience, a woman has to be something special to interest me now," says Brazzi. "There has to be more than going to bed to see a couple of beautiful long legs. You Americans - you see women as so many bodies to be conquered! You have sex; you do not make love. You are all so obsessed with the body. You have no idea how sad this makes your women feel - the knowledge that you regard them as so much flesh to be picked up and put down."
"Physical beauty? It is not the most important thing. You should be looking into the body to see if, inside, there lives a woman of kindness, intelligence and charm. And the only way to do that is to look into her eyes. That is where true lovemaking begins."
Brazzi has been married for 39 years to Lydia, his devoted Italian wife. They met when they were both 15-year old students in Florence.
"Sure, we have fights," admits Brazzi, "but they're never those hurtful, bitter fights. Lydia is never jealous when women make advances to me. She has never tried to retaliate by emasculating me. I've always acted with good sense and discretion. I was lucky. I never got the unbearable love pain in my gut and made a fool of myself, or was disrespectful to Lydia. After the sexual excitement of the first few years, you learn how to change so that you get other things from the marriage. You cannot live forever in love's young dream."Rossano Brazzi: A Lifetime of Love', April 1981, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation"
There will now be a pause for moment of anguish while a large number of us scream, 'WHERE THE HELL WAS I WHEN HE WAS SLEEPING WITH THE 2,000 WOMEN???" Obviously, if some of us were paying attention, that number might have been up to ... oh, about 2,250.
For our next issue, please compose a short essay answering the question, "Was he REALLY that friendly, and, if so, which vitamins did he take to get all that energy?" -- we'll print all the answers in the next issue!
And speaking of "The Final Conflict", here's some trivia:
To what order did Father Di Carlo and his men belong?
A sex-crazed mob of women once ripped off all of his clothes in Venice. A rich Mexican woman offered two million dollars to his wife if she would "sell" him to her. Recently on Italian television, it was said he has slept with more than two thousand women. Rossano Brazzi does not deny it."
We (that is, self-proclaimed Brazzi Seductees # 2001 and #2002) asked readers to comment on how accurate they thought that press release was, and the responses were pretty amusing. Given the subject matter, we're calling this "The Impossible Dream":
"2,000 women? After the filmography you sent, I have only one question: where did he find the time?"Liz, New Jersey, #2003
"My husband says, "Forget Superman, Rossano Brazzi is MY hero." I hope the couch springs aren't poking him too hard -HA!"Laura, Santa Barbara, CA #2004
"I don't believe it, "2000" is too general a number. If they'd said "1,758", maybe I'd believe it."Cindy L, Queens, NY, #2005
"Sure, I believe Italian TV's statement. Just like I believe I would have been #1,999 except for that darn headache."Margaret L., Manhattan, #2006
"Did they mean he slept with the same woman 2,000 times or he slept with 2,000 different women?"Tia P., Fort Lauderdale, FL, #2007
(Ed note: Uh ... WAKE UP, TIA! *Slap!* That would come to 44 times per year or 3 times a month. If I were his wife, I would have killed him if that's all I got!)
"Judging by my husband, I can't think of any vitamins that would give him that much energy. If you find out what they are, let me know!"Carol Anne., Springfield, IL, #2008
"Who are these women and where are they? Inquiring minds want to know!"Roxanne, Baltimore, MD (Rossano's Love Goddess, #2009)
1996 has begun delightfully, with "Il natale che quasi non fu" airing everytime we turned around (and if that film doesn't have the catchiest music ... ok, be honest: how many of you caught yourselves cheerfully singing, "There once was a Christmas that almost wasn't ... because of a man named Prune!" 20,000 times in a row??), a trip to Italy in the works and letters and holiday cards arriving from all corners of the U.S. That has been the most delightful and unexpected reward of offering free information about Rossano Brazzi to anyone who asks: he seems to have captured the attention of some of the nicest and warmest people I've ever had the pleasure of getting to know! (In fact, it says something about the warmth he projected and the man he was, that so many warm and generous people want to know more about him.)
"I had no idea he'd done so many movies - I've already ordered a bunch of them and can't wait to see them.Anonymous
"Is it dumb to say you miss someone you've never even met? I was watching "Summertime" a few nights ago and suddenly realized I missed him! He was one of a kind."Margaret, E-Mail
"I thought I was the only person who still lusted after Rossano Brazzi! He still makes my toes curl and I wasn't even born yet when he made that movie [Summertime]."Kristin C., Manhattan
" ... it's amazing to me how different it was when he made "South Pacific". People ought to watch his films to see how much sex appeal an actor can have without taking any clothes off and ruining all the fun you can have with your imagination. And I have a great imagination!"Laura S., via E-Mail
"He always did such simple little things: a look here, a touch there, and it wasn't obvious or anything, but I'd think, "Now there's a man who knows what he's doing." Watching Rossano Brazzi movies should be a course requirement for most men I know."Joan M., Manhattan
"Some people [think that] he was sexy in his thirties and forties, but I thought he got better with age. I saw him in "Far Pavilions" and couldn't believe how handsome he was at that age. I would have hit on him , too - oh yes, indeed. Put ME on that elephant with him and he'd forget all about that greedy little thing he married."Nancy R., Torrance, CA
(Editor's note: We hasten to assure our readers that Nancy is referring to the character he married in "Far Pavilions - NOT to his wife in real life.)Return to top of page
Our big thrill THIS month was finding a David Lean retrospective, complete with photographs from "Summertime". We learned some vitally important facts about our hero (that is, Rossano, not David Lean) from this source:
(1) He did NOT take Katherine Hepburn out to dinner the entire time they were filming, and she was still sulking about this decades later. To our way of thinking, this proves that he had the wisdom, the good sense and the self-preservative instincts not to waste a Venetian summer night on the likes of a cranky Katherine Hepburn ...!
(2) He stayed at the Gritti Palace. We looked this up (we really did; we're nothing if not persistently nosy) in a Venetian Guide Book, and learned it was THE most expensive hotel in Venice, located right on the Grand Canal. From this fact we learned another very important factoid about Rossano Brazzi: he was a HECK of a lot richer than we are ...unless, maybe he charged the expense to the production company and only LOOKED rich. We cheered up at this news and didn't feel quite so impoverished ...
(3) His housekeeper, Irma, later went to work for Federico Fellini. We learned this from reading a Fellini biography while standing on line in the bookstore waiting to buy the Lean retrospective. Doesn't knowing this minuscule little facet of his existence made you feel SO much closer to the man himself? No? Well, we tried ...
Quite unexpectedly, we also ran across a man (now an employee at a Los Angeles daily) who was not only an assistant photographer on that very set, but took several of the photos in the Lean retrospective. In other words, our very first encounter with someone who actually knew and worked with Rossano Brazzi. And if you don't think we were impressed - think again.
"You would have liked him: he was a real nice man." was the report. "He was very easy to get along with, not stuck up or pretentious at all. He was one of my favorite actors on that set. Lean could be rude; Hepburn just ignored everybody, but Brazzi would stop and chat and was very friendly."
So there you have it - our first "inside scoop" on Rossano Brazzi. And believe me, we were as impressed as you are.Return to top of page
These films had the unfortunate luck of being made during the Second World War, when Italy (under Benito Mussolini) was aligned with Germany (under Adolph Hitler), with most of the rest of Europe and the American-led allies lined up against them. Rossano's involvement in this war effort is chronicled in his biographical section, but suffice it to say that World War II had a profound impact on the Italian film industry ... films were lost, set aside, banned, disappeared, or damaged as a result of war. (You'll see an example of the effect of the War on Italian filmmaking: "Cronaca di due secoli", begun in 1943, interrupted and not finished until 1953 ... and even then, never shown. Or "I dieci comandamenti", begun in 1943, interrupted ... and then finally finished in 1945).
Another aspect of the impact of World War II may be less evident, but was real nonetheless: not everyone in Italy supported Mussolini's fascist regime, and in fact many actively opposed it. This was true in the acting community as well. Pretend, for a moment, that the art of film making existed during the American Civil War. Now, try to imagine Union and Confederate actors appearing in the same film, and you'll have some idea of the wrenching agony Italian actors endured during this time.
A good example: Rossano's sentiments were anti-fascist to the extent that he eventually led an underground resistance cell in Rome and was imprisoned as a result. Yet he worked on Piazza San Sepulcro/Cronaca di due secoli with cast member Osvaldo Valenti. Valenti was so fanatically fascist that he engaged in the torture and execution of anti-fascists in 1945, and was eventually assassinated by partisans in 1945 when Mussolini was overthrown. In other words, the next time you complain about YOUR work environment, try to imagine how much fun that one must have been.Return to top of page
We had planned (and by "we" I refer to a dedicated Rossano Brazzi fan and two computer nerds) to upload this newsletter series onto the Internet ... our dream is to create and maintain a "Rossano Brazzi Web Page" ... (some of us have such such odd dreams, don't we?) -- and we still plan to do that!! However, while Frick and Frack are still playing around with the web page software and swearing they know what they're doing, a few interested fans (and we always knew you were out there!!) wanted to read the pages right now ... for the moment, we're printing out hard copies and mailing those out ... so welcome aboard to those who are reading the hard copies ... gosh, we feel just like real magazine publishers!
But lots of news items are vastly more important than our egos and Hearst-while pretensions, like: "E" Entertainment TV will run Love Boat episodes twice daily: once in the afternoon, with a repeat of the episode the following morning. Since we won't touch upon his television appearances for some time yet, this one we'll mention now: at least one of them was a guest-starring appearance on The Love Boat: a two part episode filmed in Rome (naturally): "The Gigolo, Parts I and II".
Also: Summertime has been airing semi-regularly on "Bravo"(what a lovely movie for a warm summer night!), and South Pacific has been showing up regularly on the "Disney Channel". (Check your local listings). MOST IMPORTANTLY: before they sell out, you might want to buy the last remaining Anniversary Edition of South Pacific -- the boxed set that includes a soundtrack cassette. Reason: this includes a rare copy of a 1958 MovieTone newsreel covering the South Pacific premier. Rossano appears for all of 1/10 of a second, hugging Mitzi Gaynor.
For those into lip-reading, the word he's speaking as he hugs her is, "Yes!" We're not sure why he chose to utter that particular word at that particular time, but figure either, (a) he was a passionate adherent of minimalism, (b) he really enjoyed hugging Mitzi Gaynor, or (c) he was responding to her question, "Don't you just hate having to suck up to all these over-stuffed movie studio weenies?" (And yes, this IS the announcer who referred to the "Star of the Movie It Was His Job To Cover" as Rossano Bracci. And ooooh, Rossano must have just loved that.)
On a brighter side, you do get to see him looking really spiffy in a tuxedo. But anniversary editions are limited, so buy them now while you still can.Return to top of page
We Americans have an international (and really annoying) reputation for completely screwing up names of people from other countries. Remember George Bush constantly referring to the Iraqi dictator as "SAD-am"? No wonder the guy despised us so much: "Those imperialist American dogs can't even pronounce my name right!"
Rossano, we're sorry to say, didn't fare much better on the American tongue, even at the height of his fame. There he was, the shining star of Summertime and South Pacific, the romantic idol of millions of American women, and a Movie-Tone newsreel announcer introduces him as "Rossano Bracci". He goes on the Dinah Shore Showand Jimmy Durante calls him 'Rossana'. No wonder when he adopted a directorial pseudonym he picked "Edward Ross" ... probably he figured there was no way we Americans could screw THAT up.
And, of course, he was wrong. A recently perusal of an online cinematic data base finds him identified as "Edward Rose". We doubt very much that he accessed the Web from Italy in the last five to ten years, but can just imagine his reaction if he had, gaping at the computer screen, clutching his head and yelling (much like Emile De Beque): "I - DO - NOT - BELIEVE -IT!!"
In any event, dear readers, we must inform you that the bylaws of this organization REQUIRE you to pronounce his name correctly (under penalty of public ridicule and humiliation by your peers). A good example of the correct (i.e., Italian) pronunciation of his name can be found in Mondo Cane. That narrator - who is Italian - pronounces it with the flourishing and sensual trill of the "R" consonant that distinguishes the Italian tongue from all others:
However, if your tongue refuses to "trill" successfully and the effort alone makes you appear as though you were having some sort of seizure, "Roh-SAHN-noh BRAH-tzee" will do in a pinch. And if you'd like to learn 'trilling' from the Grand Master of the Art, buy "South Pacific" and mimic that wonderful sound he makes on the beach, just after the "I'm Gonna Wash That Man" number, as he slaps his white horse on the backside. (And while you're at it, check out the animal handler dressed up like an army nurse, dashing out of the bushes behind him, to run after the horse, after he does that!!)
Anyway, the bottom line (sorry, couldn't resist) is: true, horses may bolt when they see you coming, but you'll be trilling like an Italian in no time.