Photo: Joan Marcus
In this episode of The Italian American Podcast, we speak with Tom Santopietro, the author of five books: “The Sound of Music Story”; “The Godfather Effect: Changing Hollywood, America, and Me”; “Sinatra in Hollywood”; “Considering Doris Day” (a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice); and “The Importance of Being Barbara.”
Tom’s books have been featured in The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, The Atlantic, Library Journal, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The New York Post, and numerous newspapers across the country.
Prior to becoming an author, Tom worked as a tennis pro and has spent twenty-five years as a manager of over 30 Broadway shows, including Phantom of the Opera, A Few Good Men, Jersey Boys, and Master Class.
We also announced during this episode that the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is now the official sponsor of our podcast. NIAF is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that serves as a resource for the Italian American community; preserving the Italian American heritage and culture; promoting and inspiring a positive image and legacy of Italian Americans; and strengthening and empowering ties between the United States and Italy. Visit www.niaf.org to learn more. Two NIAF events coming up that we will be attending include “Italy in the White House” and their annual NYC Gala.
“I believe in America, America made my fortune.” – Mario Puzo
Tweetables (Please Share):
On seeing young Vito Corleone: I looked at him on the screen and said “That’s my grandfather.” – Tom Santopietro [click to tweet]
“In some ways, Italian Americans are still the ones that are okay to make fun of, but not in my book.” – Tom Santopietro [click to tweet]
“Instead of hiding the fact that he was Italian American, Frank Sinatra embraced it.” – Tom Santopietro [click to tweet]
“This podcast is a way of connecting with a sense of being Italian American and taking pride in it.” – Tom Santopietro [click to tweet]
Tom Santopietro on Italian Americans: “We all want that feeling of being connected.” [click to tweet]
“If we have a sense of being connected, and the (Godfather) films can provide us with that sense, that is a great gift.” – Tom Santopietro [click to tweet]
“I feel like I woke up one day and our parties were more American than they’d ever been.” – Dolores Alfieri [click to tweet]
- Growing up Italian American in a very white American community made it hard for Tom to connect with his roots.
- Many Italian Americans don’t identify with their Italian heritage until later in life.
- The image of Italian Americans in the media made it even harder for everyday Italian Americans.
- Frank Sinatra was asked to change his name, and he staunchly denied the request.
- Frank Sinatra was a very proud Italian American, but said he hated himself at times for enjoying jokes against Italians.
- Tom mentioned how his grandparents came over to America so he could have the life he has, and he honors them by working hard every day.
- Tom mentioned that “The Godfather” trilogy really helped Italian Americans realize that they are all connected.
Resources Mentioned in the Episode
Tom Santopietro’s Website
Sinatra in Hollywood
Considering Doris Day
The Importance of Being Barbara
The Godfather Effect
The Sound of Music Story
The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)
NIAF New York City Gala
NIAF “Italy in the White House” event