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Vincent Gardenia

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Vincent Gardenia
Vincent Gardenia
Vincent Gardenia played Frank Lorenzo on All In The Family.

Birthname

Vincenzo Scognamiglio

Born

(1920-01-07)January 7, 1920[1]

Birthplace

Naples, Italy

Died

December 9, 1992(1992-12-09) (aged 72)

Deathplace

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.

All In The Family characters

Frank Lorenzo (Seasons 1-3)
Curtis Remply (1 episode in Season 3)
Jim Bowman (1 episode in Season 1)

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Vincent Gardenia (born Vincenzo Scognamiglio, January 7, 1920 – December 9, 1992)[1] played the part of Frank Lorenzo husband of Irene Lorenzo (Betty Garrett) on All In The Family. Gardenia also appeared as Jim Bowman in Episode 8 of Season 1 (as the man who sold his house to the Jeffersons) and as Curtis Remply in Episode 7 of Season 3 (as a swinger opposite Rue McClanahan before becoming a semi-regular along with Betty Garrett in 1973. Gardenia only stayed for one season as Frank Lorenzo, but Garrett remained until her character was phased out in late 1975. Like his character Frank, Vincent was also of an Italian background.

Early lifeEdit

A gifted stage, film, and television actor, Vincent was born Vincenzo Scognamiglio in Naples, Italy,[2] the son of Elisa and Gennaro Gardenia Scognamiglio. After emigrating to the United States at the age 2, he lived most of his life in Brooklyn, NY.[2] As a child, he performed in a family acting troupe in Italian-American neighborhoods in and around New York City.[2]

When Vincent was 2-years-old, the family immigrated to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, New York City, and his father established an Italian-language acting troupe that specialized in melodramas. "The titles changed, but they were usually about a son or daughter who gets in trouble, runs away, then begs forgiveness," Gardenia said. At age 5, he made his stage debut in his father's company as a shoeshine boy, and while still a teen-ager he was playing character roles. He continued acting in the company until 1960, five years after he took his first English-language stage role.

CareerEdit

Gardenia played a small role in the film "The House on 92nd Street," and bit parts in other films, including "Cop Hater," and "A View From the Bridge." He first spoke English onstage in 1955, as a pirate in the Broadway play "In April Once." The following year at age 28, he appeared as Piggy in his Off-Broadway debut in The Man with the Golden Arm in 1956.[2] He described his role in the film Little Murders as a "turning point".[2]

Award winning workEdit

In 1972, he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in The Prisoner of Second Avenue and in 1979 he was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Ballroom. In film, he was twice nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performances in Bang the Drum Slowly and Moonstruck.

TVEdit

In television, Gardenia won the 1990 Emmy Award or his performance in Age-Old Friends, with Hume Cronyn.[3] Among his best remembered TV roles is his portrayal of Frank Lorenzo, Archie Bunker's neighbor on All in the Family (1973–74) and as J. Edgar Hoover in the miniseries Kennedy (1983).

DeathEdit

In December 1992, Gardenia was in Philadelphia to perform in the stage production of the Tom Dulack comedy “Breaking Legs”, beginning a three-week run in the off Broadway hit, at the famed Forrest Theatre on Walnut St. In the play, Gardenia had performed the role of restauranteur ‘Lou Garziano’, since the show’s New York opening in May 1991.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 9, 1992, just hours after the Philly preview of “Breaking Legs”, Gardenia had returned to his hotel about 1 a.m. after dining with stage director John Tillinger, producer Elliot Martin and the play’s cast after the show’s preview. According to Martin, Gardenia showed no signs of illness, adding, “It was just a jolly evening.”

According to authorities, when Gardenia failed to appear for a radio interview to promote the play’s run, press representative Irene Gandy and a fellow cast member Vince Viverito became alarmed. When they arrived at Gardenia’s hotel, and there was no answer from Gardenia, they entered his hotel room. It was there where they found him dead of a myocardial infarction, in his room, dressed and clutching a telephone. He was 72. In true theatrical tradition of “the show must go on”, hours after the sad discovery, the play’s official opening went on that evening at the Forrest Theatre.

He is interred in St. Johns Cemetery in Farmington, Long Island, NY, along with his parents Elisa (1901–1967) and Gennaro Gardenia Scognamiglio (1896–1965). A section of 16th Ave. in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, where he lived until his death, bears the secondary name of Vincent Gardenia Boulevard in his honor.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Vincent Gardenia". All Movie Guide. http://movies.nytimes.com/person/25883/Vincent-Gardenia/biography. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Murphy, Mary (1974-01-16). "Vince Gardenia and the Actor as Coach". Los Angeles Times. pp. E1. 
  3. Miller, Ron (1992-06-19). "2 Movies Usher in New Deal Between Cable and Networks". The Charlotte Observer (Knight Ridder): pp. 3E. 

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