Is your surname Cocozza?

Research the Cocozza family

Mario Lanza's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Alfred Arnold Cocozza

Also Known As: "Mario Lanza", "The new Caruso", "the greatest voice of the 20th Century"
Birthdate: (38)
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: October 7, 1959 (38)
Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Lazio, Italy (Pulmonary embolism)
Place of Burial: Culver City, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Antonio Cocozza and Maria Lanza
Husband of Betty Lanza (Hicks)
Father of Colleen Lanza; Damon Anthony Lanza; <private> Bregman (Lanza) and Marc Lanza

Occupation: Opera Tenor, film star, singer
Managed by: Gary Adels Loeb
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Mario Lanza

Mario Lanza (From Wikipedia)

Mario Lanza (January 31, 1921 - October 7, 1959) was an American tenor and Hollywood movie star of the late 1940s and the 1950s. The son of Italian immigrants, he began studying to be a professional singer at the age of 15. Orchestral conductor Arturo Toscanini would allegedly later call him "the greatest voice of the twentieth century." Others referred to him extravagantly as the "new Caruso", after his "instant success" in Hollywood films, while MGM hoped that he would become the movie studio's "singing Clark Gable" due to his good looks and powerful voice.

After appearing at the Hollywood Bowl in 1947, Lanza signed a seven-year contract with MGM's head, Louis B. Mayer, who saw his performance and was impressed by his singing. Prior to this, Lanza had made only two appearances on an operatic stage, when in 1948 he sang the role of Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly in New Orleans.

His movie debut was in That Midnight Kiss, which produced an unlikely hit song in the form of Giuseppe Verdi's operatic aria "Celeste Aida." The following year, in The Toast of New Orleans, his featured popular song "Be My Love" became his first million-selling hit. In 1951, he starred in the role of his tenor idol, Enrico Caruso (1873–1921), in the biopic, The Great Caruso, which produced another million-seller with "The Loveliest Night of the Year." It was the top-grossing film that year. The title song of his next film, Because You're Mine, featured his final million-selling hit song. The song went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. After recording the soundtrack for his next film, The Student Prince he walked out on the project after an argument with producer Dore Schary over his behavior on the set.

Lanza was known to be "rebellious, tough, and ambitious", and during most of his film career, he suffered from addictions to overeating and alcohol which had a serious effect on his health and his relationships with directors, producers and sometimes other cast members. Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper writes that "his smile, which was as big as his voice, was matched with the habits of a tiger cub, impossible to housebreak." She adds that he was the "last of the great romantic performers". He made three more films before dying of a heart attack at the age of 38. At the time of his death in 1959 he was still "the most famous tenor in the world". Author Eleonora Kimmel concludes that Lanza "blazed like a meteor whose light lasts a brief moment in time."

The Lanza "myth" was created by familiar Hollywood marketing formulae, which took his social class and Italian-American identity and combined them with his good looks and exceptional talent as a singer to create the "poor boy makes good", who is "transformed into a star". He genuinely appealed to audiences worldwide, however, owing to his ability to cater to a wide variety of musical tastes. He could sing operatic arias, popular songs, Neapolitan favorites, operetta tunes, sacred melodies and Great American Songbook standards, making him what some call the "crossover artist supreme".

Today, the "magnitude of his contribution to popular music is still hotly debated", and because he appeared on the opera stage only twice, many critics feel that he needed to have had more "operatic quality time" in major theatres before he could be considered a star of that art form. Nonetheless, his groundbreaking films, especially The Great Caruso, influenced numerous future opera stars, including José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti. According to opera historian Clyde McCants, "Of all the Hollywood singers who performed operatic music . . . the one who made the greatest impact was Mario Lanza,"while Hedda Hopper stated, ". . . there had never been anyone like Mario, and I doubt whether we shall ever see his like again."

for additional info see:

see and hear:

Singer, Actor. First singer to earn Gold Records (over 1 million copies sold) in both classical and pop categories. Born Alfred Arnold Cocozza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he left high school early to work in his uncle's grocery store, until he auditioned for a music scholarship in 1942. During World War II, he was drafted into the Army, and served until the end of the war. His wife, Betty Hicks Lanza, was the younger sister of his Army buddy, Bert Hicks, and they married shortly after Mario's release from the Army; together they had four children: Colleen, Elisa, Damon, and Marc. In 1948, he signed with MGM, and his singing voice quickly brought him critical acclaim from both reviewers and fans alike. He adopted his stage name by masculinizing his mother's maiden name, Maria Lanza. His first two films, "That Midnight Kiss" (1949) and "The Toast of New Orleans" (1950), teamed him with actress Kathryn Grayson, and was an overnight success. His next film, "The Great Caruso" (1951) was a perfect fit for his talent. His stardom was short-lived, however, as he reportedly had an overbearing sense of self-importance, and had trouble with alcohol and barbiturates, as well as a ballooning weight problem. In 1954, he was to star in the lead role of Prince Karl in "The Student Prince" but the role went to Edmund Purdom instead, although it is Lanza's voice that does all of the singing. As his weight continued to cost him roles, he decided to move to Italy for a fresh start and to find new film roles. While filming "The Seven Hills of Rome" (1958) and "For the First Time" (1959) in Rome, Italy, he undertook a rigorous diet, using barbiturates to help him lose weight, which contributed to his heart attack and death at age 38. His wife, shattered by his death, died five months later. (bio by: [fg.cgi?page=mr&MRid=46483611" target="_blank Kit and Morgan Benson)] Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Jan 01, 2001

Find A Grave Memorial# 603

view all

Mario Lanza's Timeline

January 31, 1921
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
December 9, 1948
Age 27
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
December 12, 1952
Age 31
Los Angeles County, California, United States
May 19, 1954
Age 33
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
October 7, 1959
Age 38
Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Lazio, Italy
Culver City, Los Angeles County, California, United States