*(James Mason) Tiberius Caesar, Emperor of Rome during the days when
Christianity began to spread it message throughout Europe. Other cast included
John McEnery as Caligula; Neil Dickson as Valerius, a Roman centurion; John
Houseman as Gamaliel; Anthony Zerbe as Pilate; Philip Sayer as Saul; Richard
Kiley as Claudius; Jennifer O'Neill as Messalina, Claudius's wife; Anthony
Andrews as Nero; and Ava Gardner as Agrippina.
*(Ernest Borgnine) Dominic Santini, a helicopter pilot of Italian descent who
owned Santini Air Charter Service based at the Van Nuys Airport. Dom was the
buddy of a rouge helicopter pilot who stole a high-tech government helicopter
known as Airwolf. Dominic was born on the island of San Remo. When Dom died in
an explosion, his niece Jo Ann "Jo" Santini (Michele Scarabelli) took over the
operation. Donnelly Rhodes appeared as Jo's father, Tony Santini.
ALL IN THE FAMILY/CBS/1971-79
**(Vincent Gardenia, Betty Garrett) Frank & Irene Lorenzo, Italian-American
neighbors of the bigoted Archie Bunker during the 1973-75 season. In a reversal
of traditional domestic roles, husband Frank loved to cook and wife Irene was a
wiz at fixing mechanical things.
*(Jerry Doyle/costar) Michael Garibaldi, Chief of Security of Italian descent
especially chosen by Commander Jeffrey Sinclair to supervise security aboard the
space station Babylon 5 orbiting the planet Epsilon 3. In the year 2260 Michael
was abducted by the Psi Corps and secretly brainwashed. In 2261 he resigned
abruptly as Chief of Security and began working as a private investigator. He
was next hired by William Edgars, a millionaire businessman who sought to create
a serum to protect normals from the intrusion of telepaths. When the Psi Corps
extracted this information from Michael's brain, they murdered Edgars, stole the
serum and released Garibaldi from his enslavement with the knowledge that he had
been used as a pawn to destroy and betray his friends. Michael later married the
widow of William Edgars, and left Babylon 5 to help his new wife, run the
intricacies of her new inherited business empire. Throughout his career, Michael
unfortunately turned to alcohol to hide from his problems and at times these
bouts with acute alcoholism endangered his own life and the lives of others in
the process. Michael's father Alfredo Garibaldi served under General Richard
Franklin in the Dilgar War. Michael's grandmother was a Boston police officer.
Daffy Duck is Michael's favorite cartoon character.
*(Giancarlo Esposito) Paul Gigante, a half-black, half-Italian police detective
who moves his family from Washington, D.C. to a mostly white desert community of
Bakersfield, California. There, he is teamed with a partner whose police
techniques were learned from watching television.
*(Robert Blake) Detective Tony Baretta, an orphaned son of poor Italian
immigrants who returned to the inner city to fight crime working as a
plainclothes undercover cop at the 33rd precinct. He lived in a rundown hotel
with a pet cockatoo named Fred.
**(Grillo) Anthony Stigliano, Italian-American police detective working among
the ranks of an all-male squad of policeman in the Battery Park section of New
York City. New York born and streetwise, Stigliano is teamed with fellow officer
Derek who is the team’s voice of reason when Stig’s enthusiasm for the job gets
the better of him.
BAY CITY BLUES/NBC/1983
**(Dennis Franz) Angelo Carbone, an Italian-American baseball coach who
motivated the players of the Bluebirds, a minor-league baseball team in the
working-class town of Bay City, California.
**(Buzz Belmondo) Guido Torzini, a goofy Italian character who interacted with
the lifeguards in charge of the Malibu beaches in Los Angeles County. during the
*(Mark Ruffalo/costar) Zane Martinelli, beat cop of Italian descent working with
Irish partner Officer Mike Dorigan in New York’s 12 Precinct. Zane is single and
a party animal.
*(Paul Sorvino) Sgt. Bert D'Angelo, a veteran Italian-American New York
policeman transferred to the Streets of San Francisco.
BEVERLY HILLS 90210/FOX/1990-99
**(Joe E. Tata) Nat Bussichio, Italian-American owner of the Peach Pit, a
Beverly Hills restaurant and hangout for a group of yuppy teenagers. Nat's
father Salvatore, the founder of the Peach Pit, knew all of the Hollywood's
great actors. He even helped feed Steve McQueen for two years during his
struggling years. On the series finale Nat acted as surrogate father for Donna
Martin [her dad died] and gave her away at her wedding to David Silver.
**(Nancy Walker) Nancy Blansky, a manager for a troupe of Las Vegas showgirls.
Nancy's family members included Eddie Mekka as Joey DeLuca, her nephew and dance
instructor; and Scott Baio as Anthony DeLuca, her twelve-year-old nephew and
Johnny Desmond as Emilio, Nancy's maitre d' boyfriend.
*(Ezio Pinzo) Babbo Bonino, an Italian-American world famous opera singer who
discontinues touring after his wife dies so that he can attend to his family of
six children. Other cast included Conrad Janis as eldest son, Edward; Chet Allen
(and Donald Harris) as son, Jerry; Oliver Andes as son, Carlo; Van Dyke Parks as
son, Andrew; Lenka Peterson as daughter, Doris; and Gaye Huston as daughter,
Francesca. Ezio Pinzo sang at least once during every program.
*(Joseph Mascolo/costar) Pete Santori, Italian-American mayor of a metropolis
named Ocean City.
**(Greg Antonacci) Vinnie Mortabito, single Italian buddy of 24-year-old Jewish
guy named Lenny Markowitz who lived in an apartment in New York City.
**(Sofia Milos) Fabiana Borelli, a pouty, statuesque Italian model with an
overactive ego who frequented the Cafe Americain, a local restaurant in Paris
where a multitude of ex-patriots and foreigners mingled. She is pushing 26,
tells men she is a lesbian to avoid romantic entanglements, and endorses a
perfume named after her called Fabiana: the Fragrance.
*(James Coco) James Calucci, a harried Italian-American supervisor of a state
unemployment office in New York City. Calucci's employees were a multi-ethnic
group of incompetent goldbricks and nincompoops.
CAROLINE IN THE CITY/NBC/1995-99
*(Amy Pietz/costar) Annie Spadero, Italian-American TriBeCa neighbor and gal pal
of cartoonist Caroline Duffy. Annie danced in the cast of the Broadway
production "Cats." Her character relocated to Los Angeles in 1997 to land a role
in a TV series but soon returned. Annie is bold, brash and often called a slut
by Caroline’s partner Richard because of her string of one night stands. Also
featured was Tom La Grua as Remo, the proprietor of Remo's, Annie and Caroline's
favorite Italian restaurant; and Candace Azzara as Annie's mom (who was obsessed
with getting her daughter married). Other cast included Sofia Milos as Julia, a spoiled little
Italian rich girl who later in the series marries artist Richard Karinsky, the
love interest of Caroline Duffy.
*(Frank Finlay) Giovanni Giacomo Casanova de Seingalt (1725-98), eighteenth
century Italian adventurer, poet and librarian who gained a reputation as a
lover of many women. This six-part series explored the life of Casanova (age of
30 to his death at 73) from his escape from imprisonment at the hands of the
Spanish Inquisition, to his many romantic encounters. Other cast included Zienia
Merton as Christina; Norman Rossington as Lorenzo; Christine Noonan as Barbarina;
Julie Cornelius as Rose; Bridget Bates as Nanan; Carolyn Bowbesvlo as Anna;
Rowan Wylie as Columbia; and Elaine Donnelly as Helena. The series later aired
in America in May of 1981.
CHANCES/1990 (Miniseries) See - LUCKY/1990 (Miniseries)
CHARLES IN CHARGE/CBS/1984-85/SYN/1987-90
*(Scott Baio) Charles (last name not given), an Italian-American housekeeper and
guardian to the Pembroke and Powell Families. Ellen Travolta played Lillian, his
very demonstrative mother who was always squeezing his face and saying what a
good boy he was. Lilian ran a Pizza Parlor and later the Yesterday Cafe, a diner
with a 1950's theme. Ellen Travolta (sister of actor John Travolta) also played
Baio's mother in JOANIE LOVES CHACHI.
**(Rhea Perlman) Carla Tortelli Lebec, a wise-cracking Italian-American waitress
who worked at "Cheers," a Boston bar. Carla was divorced but that didn't stop
her from having more children with her hairy ex-husband Nick Tortelli (Dan
Hedaya). When they got together. Boom!...another bambino. Carla’s critique of
the Tortelli men included these three gems: Women are attracted to them like
flies; they treat women like flies; and their brains are in their flies.
Nicholas Colasanto costarred as Ernie Pantusso aka "Coach", a befuddled former
baseball coach who worked as bartender. Allyce Beasley played the Coach's
daughter in one episode.
**(Barbara Hershey) Dr. Francesca Alberghetti, operating room physician of
Italian heritage working at the Illinois-based Chicago Hope Hospital introduced
during the 1999-2000 season.
*(Gabriel Byrne) Christopher Columbus, explorer born in Genoa, Italy who
traveled the Atlantic Ocean in search for a new route to Asia and incidentally
discovered the mainland of America (much to the chagrin of the Native Americans
who I believe found it first). This six-hour miniseries chronicled the life of
Columbus from his early days in Italy, to his days in the Spanish court as he
pleads for funds to finance his trip and concludes with Columbus as an old man
who seeks once more to travel to the New World.
*(Valerie Harper) Liz Gianni, an Italian-American manager of The Department of
City Services in unnamed Metropolis referred to as "The City." Liz's 19-year-old
daughter, Penny (Luanne Ponce) had just dropped out of college and returned
**(Debi Mazar) Denise Iannello, a tough-talking Queens-born secretary working
for Manhattan divorce attorneys. In the fall of 1993, after CIVIL WARS
cancellation, Mazar (and her character) moved to the NBC legal drama L.A. LAW
for the 1993-1994 season.
*(Peter Falk) Lt. Columbo, Italian-American Los Angeles homicide detective with
the penchant for finding the smallest clues to solve a crime. Dressed in a
rumpled overcoat and chewing on a half-smoked cigar, Columbo relentlessly
pursued his suspects and was famous for his trademark catchphrase "Oh, One more
*(Michael Chiklis) Tony Scali, an Italian police chief aka, the Commish who
worked in the East Coast town of Eastbridge just north of New York City. Tony's
family included Theresa Saldana as Rachel, his Jewish wife; and Kaj-Erik Eriksen
as his son, David. Nicholas Lea and Gina Belafonte played two argumentative
police officers Enrico "Ricky" Caruso and Carmela Pagan. The series was based in
part on Anthony Schemberi, a real-life unorthodox police commissioner of the
town of Rye, New York.
*(Renzo Cesana) The Continental, the nickname of the suave, debonair, Italian
born Renzo Cesana who was promoted as an Italian count and member of one of the
leading families in Rome. In reality, The Continental was a video gigolo whose
job was to "woo" the bored housewife with 15-minutes of intriguing conversation
(one-sided as it was). Looking into the camera lens, this eager to please
well-mannered Italian lover talked in a husky voice to his female viewers and
offered them cigarettes, cocktails, or a comfortable chair. And when it was over
the Continental hopefully left them wanting for more. This series inspired 1950s
comedian, Ernie Kovac to do a parody called "The County-Nental" about a
country-bumpkin gigolo who wore overalls, and poured moonshine from a jug.
Whereas Renzo Cesana would say, "Don't be afraid, darling, you're in a man's
apartment," The County-Nental would look into the camera lens and with
whisky-soaked breath say "Don't be feared, this is only a man's silo." Both
comedian Billy Crystal and later actor Christopher Walken revived this romantic
character on a skits written for NBC's SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.
*(Dennis Farina) Detective Mike Torello, a tough, no nonsense Italian undercover
policeman working for a 1960's Chicago MCU (Major Crime Unit). Often tottering
on the brink of accepted legal practices, Torello and his squad members battled
organized crime. To intimidate a mobster from killing a friend, Torello and
accomplices broke into a "kingpins" mansions wearing ski masks, abducted the mob
boss, and strapped him (clad in his pajamas) atop a water tower, leaving him
with the message to back off or else. Other cast members included Anthony
Denison as Ray Luca, a small time crook from Chicago who became Torello's main
target when the focus of the series moved to Nevada; and John Santucci as Luca's
stooge, Pauli Taglia, a dim-witted but dangerous thug. Both Pauli and Luca
survived a nuclear blast at the end of the 1986-7 season when they accidentally
drove through an atomic test site at Yucca Flats. In real life Santucci had been
arrested by the FBI for major jewel thefts (his nicknames were Babe, & Johnny
Pizza); and Dennis Farina was a former policeman who worked burglary detail in
See section on GREEKS
DA VINCIE’S INQUEST/SYN/1998
*(Nicholas Campbell) Dominic Da Vinci, former police officer of Italian descent
who changes careers and now uses his investigative skills as coroner in the city
of Vancouver. Also featured were Gwynyth Walsh as Patricia Da Vinci; Robert
Clothier as Joe Da Vinci, Joy Coghill as Portia Da Vinci; Jewel Staite as
Gabriella Da Vinci; and Venus Terzo as Angela Kosmo.
THE D.A.'S MAN/NBC/1959
*(Ralph Manza/costar) Al Bonacorsi, First Assistant D.A. and contact for
detective Shannon, an undercover operative for the New York District Attorney's
*(Carl Weintraub/costar) Louis Magiotti, Italian-American stonemason who lived
with his sons Kenny (Jason Naylor) and Allan (Eddie Castrodad) in a Philadelphia
home that also housed Rick Armstrong, a Yuppie reporter and his teenage
THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW/ABC/CBS/1953-65
**(Annette Funicello) Gina Minelli, an Italian foreign exchange student who
lived with nightclub entertainer Danny Williams and family during the 1959
season. Piccola Pupa (as herself), a young Italian singer discovered by
nightclub singer Danny Williams was also seen in a few episodes of this comedy
series. See also THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB.
THE DEAN MARTIN SHOW/NBC/1965-74
*(Dean Martin) Dean Martin, a popular Italian singer entertainer, as a regular
with former partner Jerry Lewis on THE COLGATE COMEDY HOUR/NBC/1950-55. After
their break-up, he hosted a number of successful comedy variety programs
including THE DEAN MARTIN SUMMER SHOW/NBC/1966-71, DEAN MARTIN
PRESENTS/NBC/1968-73 and THE DEAN MARTIN COMEDY WORLD/NBC/1974.
*(Danny Aiello) Dellaventura, a tough-talking former NYPD detective of Italian
descent who becomes a streetwise urban vigilante. Dellaventura doesn't believe
in giving the bad guy his tradition constitutional rights and isn't squemish
about cracking some skulls to right wrongs.
*(Judd Hirsch) Sgt. Dominick Delvecchio, tough Los Angeles police detective of
Italian descent who teamed with partner, Sgt. Paul Shonski. Mario Gallo appeared
as Delvecchio's father, Tomaso, a barber from "the old country."
*(Tige Andrews/costar) Lt. Johnny Russo, Italian plainclothes detective assigned
to an elite squad of New York Police Department detectives headed by Captain
**(Tony Rosato) Lt. Lou Gianetti, police detective who occasionally assisted his
cousin Mike Devitt, the owner of the "Two of Diamonds" detective agency.
*(John DiResta) John DiResta, a New York City Subway cop struggles with his job
and family living on Long Island. Family members were Leila Kenzle as DiResta's
wife, Kate; Karle Warren as daughter, Anna; Ruairi and Sean Kenna as Dakota
THE DORIS DAY SHOW/CBS/1968-73
**(Kaye Ballard & Bernie Kopell) Angie & Louie Pallucci, the stereotypical "Manga!
Manga!" owners of Palucci's Restaurant who rented the apartment above their San
Francisco eatery to secretary Doris Martin, her two children and their huge dog.
DOOGIE HOWSER, M.D./ABC/1989-93
**(Max Cassella) Vinnie Delpino, a lippy Italian teenager and amateur
videographer who always had an angle or new scheme to make money or attract
fabulous babes. Vinnie was the sidekick to Doogie Howser, a teenage doctor.
**(Thomas Calabro) Joey Coltrera, the son of an Italian mobster living in
Hoboken, New Jersey. Aspiring to work his way into the "family" business, Joey
gets into collections (of protection money). Victor Argo appeared as Anthony
*(John Stamos) Gino Minnelli, an 22-year-old Italian-American welder who sang
with the Philadelphia-based rock group called "Dreams." Also featured were Jami
Getz as Martha Spino, back singer; Sandy Freeman as Gino's Aunt Louise Franconi;
and Ron Karabatsos as Gino's Uncle Louis Franconi, who let "Dreams" perform at
his neighborhood club.
*(David Marciano/costar) Ray Vecchio, an Italian-American police detective
teamed with a Canadian Mountie stationed with the local Chicago consulate
office. Ray was overly fond of his green 1971 Buick Riviera automobile. Also
featured was Daniel Kash as Detective Louis Guardino (who died in a car bombing
on episode "Juliet Is Bleeding."
THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW/CBS/1948-71
**(Topo Gigio) Topo Gigio, a cuddly little mouse puppet (aka "The Little Italian
Mouse") created by a troupe of puppeteers that debuted on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW
on April 14, 1963. Standing ten inches high and made of a half pound of foam
rubber, Topo Gigio was controlled by sticks not strings (unlike most puppets).
Garbed in black hoods and black velour clothing, and working against a black
backdrop (so they were invisible to the audience) three expert puppeteers
manipulated Topo with their hands and three inch sticks. Maria Perego, Topo's
creator, moved Topo's mouth and feet, Frederico Giolo guided Topo's hands and
his wife Annabella, controlled the puppets oversized ears. Topo's voice was
provided offstage by Guiseppe Mazullo. Each week, as part of the show, the
adorable little mouse would appear on stage and greet the stone-faced Mr.
Sullivan with a sugary "Hello, Eddie!" Topo, who often spoke of his girlfriend,
Rosey, closed his weekly visits by saying "Keesa me goo'night, Eddie." Topo
appeared 92 times and closed the final 1971 episode of ED SULLIVAN SHOW. Topo
was also featured in an aborted CBS movie pilot, The Magic World of Topo Gigio
(1965) and an Italian-made-movie Topo Gigio Goes To The Moon. Although finished
in the states, Topo Gigio found new fame as his creators introduced their
friendly mouse in South America, Spain, Japan. Topo also appeared on a weekly
Italian TV show and a 1980s Japanese produced animated series.
THE 87TH PRECINCT/NBC/1961-62
*(Robert Lansing) Det. Steve Carella, Italian plainclothes detective assigned to
the 87th Precinct in New York City. The series was based on characters created
by Ed McBain. Also featured was Gena Rowlands as Teddy Carella, Steve's deaf
mute wife. The "Carella" character resurfaced in the 1995 TV-movie Ed Bain's
87th Precinct starring Randy Quaid.
*(Nathan Lane) Joseph Pinino, an internationally renowned Italian-American opera
star who escapes to the comfort of his family's Napa Valley winery after his
career is suddenly cut short when he loses his singing voice. Also featured were
Joan Plowright as Joseph's eccentric mother, Marie Pinoni; Glenne Headly as his
jealous sister, Francesca Pinoni; Trevor Fehrman as her teenage son, Michael;
and Ernie Sabella as Leo.
**(Harvey Lembeck) Seaman Gabby Di Julio, crew member of Italian descent serving
aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer Appleby in the peacetime South Pacific.
**(Erik Palladino) Dave Malucci, attending physician of Italian heritage who
worked at the emergency room in Cook County General Hospital. He received his
medical degree from a school on the Caribbean island of Grenada. His character
was fired from the hospital in the fall of 2001 for alleged medical malpractice.
Other Italian characters include Paul McCrane as the gleefully malicious Dr.
Robert Romano, [a series regular in the sixth season] whom you just love to
hate; Rick Rossovich as appeared as Dr. John Taglieri who almost married Head
Nurse Carol Hathaway (a Greek-American); and Maria Bello as Dr. Anna Del Amico,
a strong-willed pediatrician.
EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND/CBS/1996-2005
*(Ray Romano) Ray Barone, an Italian-American sportswriter who juggles his
professional career with his family life, which involves the often intrusive
visits of his parents and brother who live across the street from his Long
Island home. Family members included Patricia Heaton as Ray's wife, Debra; Doris
Roberts, as his nosy mother; Marie; Peter Boyle as his father, Frank; Madylin
Sweeten as Ray's daughter, Ally; Sawyer and Sullivan Sweetin as Ray's twins
Michael and Geoffrey; Brad Garrett as his droll cop brother, Robert; and
Sullivan and Sawyer Sweetin as their twin boys. The series format reflects
Romano's real-life as he is married, has a young daughter, twin boys, a police
officer brother and parents who lived near them in Queens, New York City. Ray's
real parents (Lucie and Albert) insisted, however, that they "never barged in"
on Ray's family." At the time the series was filmed, Ray and family lived in a
Spanish-style home in Southern California far from his New York City roots.
*(Joe Pantoliano/costar) Jimmy Murtha, a debonair but ruthless beyond belief
Italian mob boss who cuts people's hands off and keeps them in the freezer for
special occasions; but, of course, Jimmy regularly attends confession at his
local church. Other cast include Robert Portnow as Detective Collero.
THE EZIO PINZA SHOW//NBC/1951-52
*(Ezio Pinza) Ezio Pinza, Italian-American opera singer who starred in his own
half-hour musical program sponsored by RCA. The program is also referred to as
THE RCA VICTOR SHOW STARRING EZIO PINZA. Pinza, famous for his role in South
Pacific on Broadway, made his TV debut in September 1951 on the ALL-STAR
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