Thanks so lot to our friends, Freddy Tenore and also Annette DeCeglie and the entirety crew in ~ Wiseguyz radio for having Top Disney author Christopher Lucas ~ above their program to discuss the book and also to debut his perform of optimal Ten Disney Italian Connections. The folks in ~ Wiseguyz are big supporters that firefighters and police personnel everywhere and also are live top top Wednesday nights v the finest of Italian-American comedy and also entertainment, and other pop society topics. You can find their show’s Facebook page by click HERE


If you say “Disney Italian” come movie fans, most people will instantly think the the iconic Lady & The Tramp spaghetti scene collection in the alley behind Tony’s restaurant. The tune from that scene, “Bella Notte” is still one of the most memeorable in Disney history. In current years, the Italian brother Luigi and also Guido indigenous the Disney/Pixar cars franchise concerned mind. In Italy, Mickey Mouse has been very popular since the 1930s, though he’s recognized as “Topolino” there. The “Marcia De Toploino” is their version of the Mickey mouse Club March.

On television, the Russo household from Wizards that Waverly ar on the Disney Channel to be a chop knit Italian-American group who ran a deli in NYC (they also happened to have actually magical powers.) David DeLuise, boy of Dom DeLuise, play the patriarch, Jerry Russo.

For pan of the parks, Disney offers Italian part in both Epcot’s people Showcase and in Tokyo Disney Sea’s Mediterranean Harbor. Adventures by Disney also offers tours of Italy itself. The areas in the parks have great recreations of standard Italian architecture and artwork, as well as world course Italian food. Because that braver souls in ~ Epcot, they have the right to always shot the complimentary imported licorice flavored Italian Beverly drink at Coca Cola’s club Cool. (Not for the pass out of love or weak the stomach.)

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Many Italians have likewise had a huge influence top top the background of Disney. Few of them are famous to people due come their affect on the large and small screens, yet others are remarkable for what they go behind the scenes. Below now are ten that them.


Annette Funicello (1942-2013)

Any discussion of Italian affect on Disney has actually to start with Annette. No last name is needed, as this first big Disney breakout star was known largely through the very first name stitched across her chest as part of the original 1955 Mouseketeers TV cast. Discovered by Walt self at a run recital and also signed come a lengthy term contract at just twelve year old, Annette Funicello was a natural. The daughter of 2 Italian immigrants, she embodied the healthy all-American image Walt was looking for, however still brought a touch of she ethnic heritage come the masses. In ~ one point, she was receiving 6,000 letters per week! Kids and adults throughout the country loved her. As soon as the Mickey computer mouse Club ended, Annette was the only original cast member maintained under contract. Walt cast her in a series of renowned movies and TV mirrors (including one – Escapade in Florence – collection and filmed in Italy)


Annette additionally helped to rise the fortunes of Disneyland records, with a collection of albums that came to be hits. The Sherman Brothers had one of their very first big succeses – and also came come Walt’s fist – with Annettte’s 1959 single “Tall Paul.” It climbed to #7 ~ above the Billboard charts. Annette’s friend at the time, Paul Anka, wanted to marry her but Walt advised against it. He called it “Puppy Love.” Anka later used the dissuasion through Mr. Disney together the basis because that his own hit tune of the exact same name in 1960. Funicello ultimately left Disney, yet stayed in touch through Walt for the rest of his life. That was her advisor and mentor. As soon as she made her renowned beach photos with Frankie Avalon ~ above the 1960s, she always deferred to Disney once making wardrobe choices. Also in her later on years, Annette preserved that squeaky clean image as she performed on screen or top top stage, or in a collection of well-known peanut butter commercials. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1992. She autobiography, “A Dream Is A Wish your Heart Makes” was published in 1994 and made into a TV movie in 1995. She passed away from complications of her condition in 2013. For a generation that fans, Annette IS Disney.


Amadeo Pietro Giannini (1870 -1949)

Walt’s trademark phrase about Disney was “It all began with a mouse” however it can just have easily have to be “It all started with Giannini.” Banker, innovator, and also philanthropist Amadeo Giannini was one of the most influential people of the twentieth Century, as provided by TIME newspaper in 1999. The kid of Italian immigrant from Genoa who came to California during the gold sirloin of 1849, Giannini became the manager of a savings and loan in ~ a young age. He to be dismayed in ~ the lack of support and loans to tough working lower and middle class immigrant families, therefore Giannini began his own financial institution in 1904. He referred to as it the financial institution of Italy. In 1906, one earthquake ravaged San Francisco. Giannini’s financial institution was among the few left standing. He assisted the city to come back from disaster. (He likewise did the exact same for Italy after people War II, donating millions to help that nation rebuild.) In 1909 Giannini created branch banking, to make it much easier for his customers. He broadened his business throughout California. In 1923 he merged his financial institution with the bank of America, went national and also became the Chairman and CEO. That was the same year a young Walt Disney pertained to California indigenous Kansas City search his luck in activity pictures. Amadeo Giannini was one of the only world to believe in Walt, prolonging him loans and also credit to aid build the Disney Studios from a little time operation right into one of Hollywood’s power players. It to be mutually beneficial. As soon as Walt want to gambling on the very first animated function film, it to be Giannini’s financial institution of America the backed it. After Amadeo Giannini’s fatality in 1949, the business stayed in his family until the 1990s and they continued bank of America’s long association through Disney, in part to honor their founder’s legacy and also friendship v Walt.


Adriana Caselotti (1916 -1997)

When Walt obtained the money from bank of America for his enthusiasm project, 1937’s snow White and the seven Dwarfs, that knew that every little thing had come be simply right, consisting of the vocal cast. Luckily he had a dependable group of radio and vaudeville actors who provided voices because that his cartoon shorts. They would fill the duties of the dwarfs and also assorted characters, however Walt still required to discover the ideal blend of innocence, practicality and sweetness for his eye White. He uncovered it in 19 year old Adriana Caselotti. The daughter that Guido Caselotti, a vocal coach, and also Maria Caselotti, one opera singer, Adriana spent her beforehand years traveling back and forth between Italy and also the U.S. V her family. Through the 1930s they’d worked out in California, where Adriana discovered work together a model and singer. She auditioned sight unseen because that Walt, who was listening on a speak so as not to be influenced by looks. She to be paid $970 for her occupational as eye White (about $16,000 today) which was quite a pretty sum during the an excellent Depression. Unfortunately for Caselotti, it to be the time as soon as voice end actors were not given on-screen credit, for this reason her job-related went unheralded by the public. Eye White was eye White, not a young Italian-American girl. Caselotti’s Hollywood career ongoing on in dribs and also drabs, with tiny roles in classic films like The magician of Oz (as the voice the Juliet during the believe Man’s song) and It’s A wonderful Life (as a torch singer in Martini’s saloon.) In the 1970s, Disney began crediting her as eye White, and also for the last 20 years of she life she was brought in by lock on occasion to record new dialogue for eye White for films and park attractions. In 1994 she was offered the highest possible honor by them, Disney Legend status. Caselotti is now well-known by fans about the civilization as the very an initial Disney Princess.


Carlo Collodi (1826 – 1890) and Felix Salten (1869 – 1959)

Most that Disney’s beforehand films and also shorts were based upon popular fairy tales and legends, every one of which were in the general public domain. There were a few exceptions, however. For his follow as much as Snow White, Walt license is granted the story of Pinocchio, composed in 1880 by Italian writer Carlo Lorenzini, who took as his pen name the exact same name together his city in Florence, Collodi. He began writing together a journalist till the rigors of extending Italy’s assorted wars of independence in the mid 1800s took their toll. Collodi then began writing children’s story in 1875. They were modest successes, but Pinocchio was his an initial big hit. The story he wrote differs considerably from Disney’s version, together it was much more of a principles tale about the threats of arrogance and also juvenile delinquency. In fact, Pinocchio is executed in the end of the book, for his wretchedness and lack the morals. Clearly Walt placed a happier spin on it, however retained the Italian charm (and names prefer Geppetto, Stromboli, Monstro, Figaro, Cleo, etc.) Walt also added an ext heart come the story by featuring a cricket pointed out only in happen by Collodi (and crushed to fatality by Pinocchio) together the conscience the the tiny wooden boy. Jiminy Cricket became the breakout success and also a Disney icon, and Pinocchio stays what many take into consideration the Disney Studios masterpiece.

Felix Salten was no Italian or roman inn Catholic, he to be an Austrian/Jewish writer who lived on the border of Italy. Together such, he spoke fluent Italian and often go on hunting expeditions and also hikes in the Italian countryside and forests. Salten was a prolific author, publishing at least one book per year. His worldwide triumph come in 1923 through a story around a young deer prince coming of age in the Italian forest. He referred to as him “Bambino” or, “Baby” however it was instead translated as “Bambi” come English speaking audiences in 1928. The film legal rights to the story the Bambi to be bought by manager Sidney Franklin in 1933. He climate re-sold them come Walt Disney. That took nearly a decade to lug the tale to the screen, yet it was an additional amazing achievement in Disney animation, v realistic depictions the animals and also nature. Salten relocated to Switzerland after the increase of Nazism in his native Austria. It was there that he created the lesser known sequel come Bambi, 1939’s “Bambi’s Children.” while Bambi is his most famous book, Disney also optioned two various other Salten tales that came to be popular fims. 1923’s “The Hound of Florence” became The Shaggy Dog in 1959, and also 1939’s “Perri” – about a curious Italian squirrel – came to be one of the oddest live activity films Walt ever produced. Released in 1957, it to be the one and only time that Disney manipulated pet behavior and also staged every step in a nature movie to follow a pre-written script. It’s all however forgotten today, though Felix Salten and also Carlo Collodi’s Disney legacies are secure.

Clyde Geronomi (1901 – 1989)

Born in Chiavenna, Italy, Clyde Geronomi immigrant to the United says through Ellis Island together a young child. He to be a talented artist and also quickly uncovered work in the burgeoning ar of animation. In 1931, he started his career at the Walt Disney Studios. By 1941, he to be not only employed through them together an artist, but additionally as a director. His Pluto cartoon “Lend A Paw” won the Oscar for ideal Animated Short. Eventually, Geronomi would direct or co-direct such Disney classics as The three Caballeros, The Legend the Sleepy Hollow, Cinderella, Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady & The Tramp, resting Beauty and also 101 Dalmatians. He left Disney in 1959 to work in television animation, and was one of the world responsible for the 1967 Spider-Man animated TV series. Geronomi was posthumously called a Disney Legend in 2017.

Tutti Camarata (1913 – 2005)

Annette Funicello was a natural talent and Disney’s first recording superstar, however she never ever failed to credit transaction her signature “Annette Sound” to she musical mentor, Salvador “Tutti” Camarata. Born in glenn Ridge, brand-new Jersey to Italian immigrant parents, Tutti love music and became a well known trumpeter. Throughout the big Band era that the 1940’s, the played through the best, consisting of Glen Miller and also The Dorsey Brothers. His reputation together a music genius to be such the in 1956 Walt Disney personally asked Camarata to help him type Disneyland Records, so the Disney could control their own distribution of soundtracks and also have one more stream the media revenue past films and television. Disney constructed the Sunset Sound Studios because that Camarata in Los Angeles, wherein he developed an astonishing 300 albums because that Disneyland records in simply 17 years. In his later on years, Camarata established the Sound manufacturing facility Studios in L.A. It to be there the recording artists and also bands choose Bette Midler, KISS, Guns and also Roses, Los Lobos and also the Red hot Chili Peppers flourished under Camarata’s tutelage, simply as Annette did in ~ the start of her career.

Don DaGradi (1911 – 1991)

His surname is not also known as it have to be by Disney and also film fans, yet Don DeGradi to be the male behind many of the ideal loved movies of the 1960s and 70s. A an initial generation Italian-American who prospered up in in brand-new York City, DaGradi do his means to Hollywood, whereby he started working as an artist because that Disney in 1941. One of his beforehand credits was his work on the Oscar winning, Nazi mocking Donald Duck brief “Der Fuhrer’s Face.” by the 1950s he’d transitioned to writing and consulting top top scripts for Disney films. Some of the countless screenplays ~ above his resume are those because that The absent Minded Professor, The parental Trap, The Love pest and Bednobs and also Broomsticks. His best achievenment v Disney, however, was together the co-screenwriter (with bill Walsh) because that 1964’s lot of Oscar winner mar Poppins. In the 2013 film saving Mr. Banks, around the do of mary Poppins, the function of DaGradi is played by gibbs Bradley Whitford. DaGradi was called a Disney Legend in 1991.

Al Bertino (1912 – 1996)

A Californian of Italian descent, like Amadeo Giannini, Al Bertino uncovered his calling together an artist and also writer. He join the Disney Studios in 1935 and also worked on films like Pinocchio and Fantasia. Once Walt made his move into television production in 1954, Bertino transitioned to being a writer for plenty of episodes of the Wonderful civilization of Disney and also its successors. He additionally worked in the Imagineering room of WED Productions – Disney’s offshoot branch that created attractions for the the parks. It was there the Bertino assisted in the development of classics like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, The Haunted Mansion, and also the country Bears Jamboree. As component of the last attraction, Bertino was offered a lasting respect by his peers. The pan favorite personality of “Big Al” the be afflicted with in the present is a direct caricature the Al Bertino himself.

Tony Anselmo

Tony Anselmo’s grand immigrated from Italy to Salt Lake City, Utah, in the 1800s to work as a miner. Born in 1960, Tony’s passion was because that animation. As a youngster he composed letters to every one of the great Disney artists and animators, opening a correspondence with many of them. On their advice, he enrolled in the California academy of the Arts, the institution that Walt himself assisted to found. It to be a maintain ground because that future Disney animators. Anselmo to be hired right out of school in 1980 to occupational for Disney. It was there that befriended the voiceover artist Clarence Nash, who’d been doing the exact same character since 1935. Nash took Anselmo under his wing, teaching him the nuances that this character. When Nash passed away in 1985, he’s already groomed his apprentice to assume the role. That’s just how the young Tony Anselmo ended up being the official voice the Donald Duck, a role he’s continued to play for over thirty years.

Garry Masciarelli/Marshall (1934 – 2016)

When Antonio Masciarelli came with Ellis Island to the Bronx from san Marzano, Italy in the 1890s, his family’s surname was Anglicized to “Marshall.” He adopted the new surname together as part of thee new start in a brand-new country, while still retaining the pride in his Italian heritage. That was pass on to his son, Garry, who came to be a comedy writer for popular television mirrors in the 1950s and also 60s, and also then the powerhouse producer the a wire of TV hits choose The weird Couple, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley (starring his sister, penny Marshall) and also Mork & Mindy. Garry Marshall released the careers that actors prefer Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, his sister Penny and Robin Williams. He likewise created well-known Italian-American icons like Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli. In the 1980s, Marshall moved to directing films, consisting of several huge hits because that Disney/Touchstone like Beaches, nice Woman and also the Princess Diaries. A Disney Legend, he additionally appeared on-screen as a physician in race To Witch Mountain, together the voice that Buck Cluck in Chicken tiny and as a homeowner ~ above Halloween night who is mistaken because that the devil by the Sanderson sisters in the 1993 movie Hocus Pocus. Both Garry and also Penny Marshall actually appear in the step together, one of the few times they ever before did the on screen.

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