An introduction to Italian Actors and Actresses.
Peter Falk, the veteran actor who portrays TV's cunning inspector Colombo, does such an excellent job at imitating the Italian American sleuth that most TV viewers believe Peter Falk to be of Italian decent.
In reality, Falk is Russian and Polish, with a mix of Hungarian and Czech further back in his ancestry. So, contrary to Falk's public image, he is not Italian American but a mixture of very hardy Eastern European stock. On the other hand, there are those actors, who, in real life, are of Italian heritage but because of a changed name and the rolls they choose to play, are rarely linked to their Italian ancestry. For example, actor Allen Alda, "Hawkeye' of TV's M.A.S.H. fame, was born Alfonso D'Abruzzo. When the actor's father, Robert Alda, entered show business he changed his Italian surname to better assimilate into American culture.
Actress Yvonne DeCarlo , "Lilly Munster" of TV's "The Monsters", was born Peggy Middleton, but changed her average sounding name to the more exotic, Italian sounding, Yvonne DeCarlo .
During the 1960s, when Jack Paar was king of late night television, he had, as a regular guest on his show, an Italian born golf pro by the name of "Guido Ponzini". Audiences, especially Italian Americans, fell in love with the handsome and hilarious Italian golf pro from Salerno, Italy. Ponzini returned again and again to the show, week after week, the Italian community embraced the comedian with great affection believing him to be from their native land. Until it was revealed that the whole thing had been a clever ruse and the Italian golf pro was, in reality, Irish American comic Pat Harrington jr. Harrington had all the gestures, mannerisms and the Italian accent down so well he fooled just about everyone, including Italian Americans.
One of TV's most prolific actors, during the golden age of television, was Anthony (Tony) Caruso. During TVs western genre, Caruso, the son of Italian immigrants, was cast in so many Native American rolls, that most TV viewers believed the actor to be a Native American actor.
Anthony Quinn is a vintage Hollywood actor with strong, ethnic, good looks commonly believed to be Italian American, His work with famous director Federico Fellini, and Italian born actresses Anna Magnani and Sophia Loren added to that belief. In realty, Quinn is of Mexican- Irish decent.