Return to HomePage   His Life and Milieu   Bibliography   Links

Email us


Vito Marcantonio and the Media


Daily News Article

I Remember Marc - Marcantonio Bullet Points

Reviews of Al Pacino in "City Hall"

Letter to the Editor of America Oggi -Original Italian with English translation



 Monday, March 16, 1998


Antoinette Agostino heads Italian-American group that hopes to provide $1,000 scholarships to Italian history students or Italian-Americans.  

Photo by Evy Mages Daily News

By JERRY CAPECI, Daily News Staff writer

Using fieri, an Italian word for pride, as a rallying cry, Italian-American professionals are banding together to celebrate their heritage and raise money for education. Fieri, which now has five city chapters and 11 nationwide, is part of a growing push by young Italian-Americans to preserve Italian culture, promote study of Italian and Italian-American history, and eliminate negative stereotypes in media and movies.

The group was started in 1984 by John Calvalli, a Fordham University graduate, who felt existing Italian civic organizations did not meet the needs of other young professionals. Fieri only caters to 18 to 39-year-olds. Calvalli, 34, a legislative assistant to Congressman Eliot Engel (D-Bronx), met a few times with Italian-American buddies and the group was born. Today it is based in New York but has 1,000 members nationwide. "We dreamed, but never thought it would become a national organization when we were meeting in my kitchen in New Rochelle," Calvalli said.

The name came after a bit. "I wanted a concept, not an acronym and I thought pride was a good concept," he said. The leaders make sure the group is as fun as it is useful. "The beauty of being Italian is you can be serious, and have fun too" Calvalli said. "My brother met his wife through the club" he said. "We have had several marriages and our claim to fame is that we don't have one divorce."

Fieri's serious work is scholarships. All five city chapters award them, based on merit and need, to Italian-Americans or students of Italian history, culture or language. Bronx-Westchester gives $5,000 a year to a student, a goal the other chapters hope to reach by 2000. "We're hoping to increase our scholarship to $1,000 this year," said Antoinette Agostino, 32, a finance manager for a pharmaceutical company and president of the Manhattan chapter

Besides supporting education Fieri has a new campaign: resurrecting the reputation of Vito Marcantonio a radical East Harlem Congressman in the 1940's whose "life of service to the community is little-known today," said national Vice President Roberto Ragone. Despite his popularity - more than 5,000 people mourned at his 1954 funeral - Marcantonio was wrongly vilified as a Communist and denied a Catholic burial, Fieri says. The group has petitioned Cardinal O'Connor to review the denial.



I Remember Marc





Al Pacino...based his character on former New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and East Harlem Congressman Vito Marcantonio... (Dave Larsen, Dayton Daily News, February 11, 1996)

Al Pacino's portrayal of a fiery, populist mayor-orator is based on former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo and the late Vito Marcantonio, a left-wing Manhattan Congressman who served in the '40's. (Paul Moses, Newsday, February 11, 1996)

Veteran Gothamites may find traces of Koch, the late Fiorello LaGuardia, Gov. Mario Cuomo, and former Rep. Vito Marcantonio in Pacino's John Pappas. (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, March 7, 1996)

About "City Hall," all [Pacino] really had to say was that his character was modeled on New York City's late, famously big-hearted congressman, Vito Marcantonio..."That's who I played. I know him. I feel him." (Jimmy Breslin, Rex Reed, Esquire, February 1996)  

"I considered several historic figures as models for the role. There was Congressman Vito Marcantonio, a populist from East Harlem during the 1940's and 1950's. Some people even considered him a Communist, but he had an incredible relationship with the people who elected him...It distresses me that politicians are played universally as corrupt. This has been something that had been going on ever since Watergate. Some very dedicated people have been destroyed by this sort of thing, and it is something that continues to disturb me. " Al Pacino (Gene Wyatt, The Tennessean, February 16, 1996)



Egregio direttore,

Mi ha fatto molto piacere leggere l'articolo di Riccardo Chioni su Vito Marcantonio.

Finalmente questo uomo politico genuino che ha fatto onore all comunita italoamericana esca dal dimenticatoio.

Desidero anche far presente che quando scoppio la guerra nel 1941, Vito Marcantonio in qualita di membre del Parlamento, aiuto molti italiani e italoamericani sospettati di sleata solo perche portavano il nome italiano.

Anthony Bonarrigo, New York City


The figure of Vito Marcantonio

Dear Editor:

I was very pleased to read Riccardo Chioni's article on Vito Marcantonio.

This true politician, who has bestowed honor upon the Italian American community, is finally emerging from oblivion.

I would like to point out that when war broke out in 1941, Vito Marcantonio, as a member of Congress, helped many Italians and Italian Americans who were suspected of being disloyal simply because they had Italian names.

Anthony Bonarrigo, New York City