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Italians on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: the brightest stars

From an idea by E.M. Stuart, president of the Hollywood Chambers of Commerce, to one of the most coveted recognitions worldwide. In 1953, the foundations were laid for a tradition that still entices the most renowned stars, including Italians.

It wasn’t until 1958 that the first 8 stars were awarded, and to read the name of an Italian on one of the stars on the most famous sidewalk in Los Angeles, we had to wait another two years.

Pic taken during my trip to Los Angeles

I visited Los Angeles and San Francisco on a study trip in July 2019, and almost 5 years later, the experience feels as vivid as ever. The impact of going from a small town in the hills of central Italy to cosmopolitan metropolises like these was astonishing. On that occasion, I wondered… which Italians have had the privilege of receiving such a prestigious award, perhaps coming from a reality similar to mine?

The 1960s marked the awards boom, and from then on, the count reached an impressive 17 stars bearing the Italian touch! Below, you can find the true chronology of the Hall of Fame stars awarded to Italian celebrities, including Sophia Loren, Luciano Pavarotti, and Anna Magnani.

Beniamino Gigli (tenor and actor): 1960

Beniamino Gigli
Beniamino Gigli | Credit

Born in Recanati in 1890, he is hands-down considered one of the most talented and renowned tenor voices of the 20th century. He began his career as a contralto and soon rose from moderately sized venues in central Italy to one of the world’s most prestigious stages: the Metropolitan Opera in New York. After this experience, he delighted audiences on the stages of Europe’s most important cities, but unfortunately, he did not live to see one of the greatest recognitions he could receive. He passed away from diabetes in 1957, two years after his last performance, which was alongside his daughter in 1955.

Licia Albanese (soprano): 1960

A top-tier soprano, she is a great source of pride for Italian opera music. Born in Bari in 1909, Licia became a naturalized U.S. citizen and performed an impressive 427 times at the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1940 to 1966.

Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (orchestra conductor): 1960

With an exceptional education as an orchestra conductor from the Trinity College of Music in London, Mantovani enjoyed an excellent career, recording over 50 albums ranging from classical and religious music to film scores. Some of his most famous performances include those at London’s Queen’s Hall, the Wigmore Hall, and the Metropole Hotel in the capital.

Rodolfo Valentino (actor and dancer): 1960

The symbol of Italian silent cinema and beyond. Even his real name is an exception: Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla. At just 18, he moved from his native Puglia to New York, becoming, in the years to come, a Hollywood star, a cinema sex symbol, and a true Latin lover. He is one of the greatest and most famous actors in silent cinema, an achievement that earned him a star in 1960.

Renata Tebaldi (soprano): 1960

Originally from Pesaro, she began her career during the dark days of World War II. Nevertheless, she managed to grace the world’s most prestigious stages, such as La Scala in Milan and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Enrico Caruso
Enrico Caruso | Credit

Enrico Caruso (tenor): 1960

He holds the distinction of being the first-ever operatic singer to record a disc. His career took off when he moved from Naples to New York, where, from 1903 to 1920, he performed an impressive 863 times at the Metropolitan Opera. He passed away in 1921, and the ceremony for his recognition took place in 1960.

Anna Magnani (actress): 1960

Anna Magnani
Anna Magnani | Credit

One of the greatest actresses of the 20th century, her talent caught the attention of leading figures in the cinema world such as Roberto Rossellini, Totò, Alberto Sordi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Marcello Mastroianni, Virna Lisi, and Giancarlo Giannini (Walk of Fame 2011). She was the first non-native English-speaking actress to win an Oscar for Best Actress (1956) for the film “The Rose Tattoo.”

Ezio Pinza (bass): 1960

He made his debut at Milan’s La Scala at the age of 30, after serving in the First World War. Just four years later (1926), he also performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Arturo Toscanini (orchestra conductor): 1960

He is the only Italian to have received two recognitions on the Walk of Fame, the first for his discography and the second for his contributions to the radio industry.

Sophia Loren (actress): 1994

Sophia Loren during the Walk of Fame ceremony
Sophia Loren during the award ceremony

Born Sofia Costanza Brigida Villani Scicolone, she is one of the most renowned actresses in the Italian panorama. Her award was number 2000, dating back to January 2, 1994. She soared to fame with her performance in the film “Two Women” inspired by Alberto Moravia’s book. A stellar performance earned her the Oscar for Best Actress in 1962, along with the award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in 1961. In 1991, she was also awarded an honorary Oscar for her career.

Bernardo Bertolucci (director): 2008

A life dedicated to his passion. At just 15, he made his first short film, “La teleferica.” Throughout his career, he had the pleasure of directing globally recognized actors such as Robert De Niro, Anouk Aimée, Gérard Depardieu, and Eva Green.

 Andrea Bocelli (tenor): 2010

One of the most talented and globally recognized tenors, he has collaborated with artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Laura Pausini, Céline Dion, and Barbra Streisand. Like his predecessors, he had the honor of performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Andrea Bocelli during the award ceremony - Walk of Fame
Andrea Bocelli during the award ceremony | Credit

Ennio Morricone (composer and orchestra conductor): 2016

Among the most respected and talented composers in the world. Among his most notable creations are the soundtracks for Quentin Tarantino’s films, such as Django Unchained, Kill Bill, and Inglourious Basterds.

Gina Lollobrigida (actress): 2018

A highly esteemed actress born in 1927 who successfully dedicated her life to cinema, sculpture, and photography. Among her most famous Hollywood performances are those in “Beautiful But Dangerous” and “The Adventures of Pinocchio.”

Lina Wertmüller (director and screenwriter): 2019

Born Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Spanol von Braueich, she is one of the most esteemed directors and screenwriters worldwide. Initially an assistant director in Fellini’s films such as 8 ½ and “La Dolce Vita”, she stole the spotlight with her greatest masterpieces: “The Seduction of Mimi,” “Love and Anarchy,” and “Swept Away.”

Lina Wertmüller during the award ceremony -Walk of Fame
Lina Wertmüller during the award ceremony

Luciano Pavarotti (tenor): 2022

Among the leading tenors in Italian opera, he still holds an incredibly interesting record. During his performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, he was called to the stage by the audience a remarkable 17 consecutive times, managing to hit nine high C notes in full voice, a first for a tenor. The record for curtain calls has remained unbeaten since February 17, 1962.

Luciano Pavarotti – Metropolitan Opera New York

Giancarlo Giannini (actor): 2023

The freshest star, the latest Italian to rightfully enter the Walk of Fame. The numbers speak for themselves: 6 David di Donatello Awards, 6 Golden Globes, 5 Silver Ribbons, and an Oscar nomination for Best Actor; no other Italian actor compares.

Featured Image Credit (Giancarlo Giannini’s ceremony)

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