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Chapter 20 ~ From Rome to Sicily - Italy

Told by a "True Story Whisper-a"

Off we go-ohh into the wide Blue yonderrrr flying high into the sky........

A stop at an alley way in Sicily directing us to Don Corleone's hideaway.....

The most beautiful Roman Colloseum.....

Also view below Sylvester Stallone and Joe Spinell in the Rocky Film along with other Films pertaining to Joe Spinell

~ Elizabeth my beautiful wife ~ Photo taken in the early '60s by yours truly, where we lived in Sunnyside, Queens in the same building that Aunt Grace and Uncle Gus also lived too ~

Sent: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 7:10 am Subject: Fwd: Memory Lane - Rome to Sicily, Italy Oct, 2011

Chapter 20

MEMORY LANE --

ROME to SICILY, ITALY OCT 1 - OCT 13, 2011

I have not found anything that I did not enjoy while roaming the streets and hills of all places visited during our southern travels in Italy from Rome to Sicily, except for one very small item that I almost hate to admit......The pizza of Italian towns except for one very small restaurant that we visited in Rome does not compare to the pizza made in New York.......New York pizza is the greatest pizza in the world and I have challenged [in writing] our Italian traveling guide in a survey presented to us, to a contest between Rome pizza and New York pizza.......Let us see if they accept this challenge in the coming days ahead of us..........

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_pizza

That being said, this country I must admit is one of the most beautiful places one would like to and should visit at least once in their lifetime.......This has been our second visit at this time..........On the more serious side of our visit our guide informed us of the killing of two political figures [one in 1992] that were fighting the mafia, were eliminated from Palermo simply by blowing up the highway where the politician had been driving in 1992.......It is said that for every million dollars attributed to highway construction, $700,000 of the million dollars makes its way into organized crime in Palermo.........

New York Times - World News

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/11/13/world/italy-accuses-18-in-1992-slaying-of-anti-mafia-prosecutor-in-sicily.html

The scenery of all towns visited on the southern locations of Italy were without saying incredible and amazing.......We also visited the town of Mondello that was also out of this world......We have taken many pictures of many famous places and had a hard covered professional photo book made up with the help of my daughter Donna and our son-in-law Mark, of the places visited on our tour......While up in Mount Etna in Sicily I collected several small lava rocks that I will keep as a momentum along with the pictures.......One of the pictures taken of me is next to a small sign pointing to a side street in Palermo that reads, "Don Corleone".......If I ever get to learn how to upload this picture on the internet I will add that picture to the distribution along with several others....(See picture Above just recently added to this chapter)

There was quite a bit of driving involved and that in itself can be quite exhausting.......Should we ever travel to Italy again I will be certain to make it a leisure trip at one or two locations.....

*********************************************************************

It was 1959 on February 14th, Valentines Day, when I first met my beautiful wife Elizabeth.......I had driven to this house in the Bronx, built by her grandfather and was to enter the building thru the back entrance that lead me into a large room in their basement........It was a blind date arranged by my co-worker Mike and his girlfriend Adeline........When I entered the room I was greeted by Elizabeth's family who were all seated around the room and apparently knew I was coming to meet their young daughter.....When I stepped into the room I immediately knew who Elizabeth's mom was as they had the same eyes and looked somewhat like twins......The rest of the ten or so people in the room were all relatives of Elizabeth's and were all there as a typical Italian family would be on a cold winters night......After saying our hellos we stepped out to go on our date with Mike and Adeline into the wintry evening........

I later found out that Elizabeth was six years my junior at a young age of seventeen and at the time thought to myself of her as jail bait as was described of females under the age of eighteen years old.......But one week later Elizabeth would turn eighteen years of age so I continued to date and see her......On October 7, 1961 we would be married and spend our honeymoon in Puerto Rico and later move to Sunnyside Queens in New York.......If one were to do the math between marriage and the current Sicily trip one would than understand the reason for this trip......We celebrated our Fiftieth Golden Anniversary with my brother Vito and his wife Shelly and two Louisiana sisters that happened to be on this Italian Tour with us at the hotel we were staying at on this wonderful evening.......[also a Canadian couple named Carmen and Carol that we later would meet that evening]......

When we first were married on October 7,1961 we had found a nice apartment in a Sunnyside, Queens apartment building where unbeknown to us, Elizabeth's Aunt Grace and Uncle Gus [ See Chapter 17 ] also co-incidentally lived.....I can recall the worried look on Elizabeth's uncles face as they too were also somewhat newly weds with a young son called Robert, but over the months that followed we became close and would enjoy each others company from time to time with visits to their or our apartment....Later at the birth of our first daughter Donna in 1965 Aunt Grace and Uncle Gus would become Donna's God Parents...

This would also be the town where Joe Spinell and his mother lived approximately one block away.....We would see Joe Spinell on occasion visiting his sister Grace and would visit with them or at Joe's apartment where Graces mother also lived with her son......Grace's mom would also appear in several films herself such as the Rodney Dangerfield movie that was filmed in Staten Island...Whenever she would appear in a film part, they would always pick her up with a stretch limo.....

On many, many occasions we would all meet at Nancy's home (mother-in-law) for a typical Sunday dinner with Pasta, Meat Balls and many other Italian goodies including Wine to wash it all down....In attendance the usual suspects at that dinner would be Nancy, Jimmy, Grace, Gus, Robert, Liz and myself...Depending on circumstances and the years that would pass there might also be many others in attendance that would enjoy this traditional meal.....

Pictures of Joe Spinell

Joe Spinell

The Internet Movie Database - Filmography

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0818874/

As you may or may not know both Joe and Uncle Gus would have interesting parts in "The Godfather film" that would come out in 1972.......When Joe and Gus went to audition for this film I was asked to accompany them to a Manhattan building where this audition for "The Godfather" would take place.......Later when the filming of The Godfather wedding scene would take place in our home town of Staten Island my family and I were invited to view the filming of this marvelous event back around 1971 (See Chapter 17... http://www.americantorque.com/page/0/2379/).......I had read the book that the film was based on only because the reviews were so over whelming at the time as it concerned the mysteries of the intriguing organized crime families or if you will the mafia........Nancy my mother-in-law had a neighbor in the Bronx who was married to the writer of this book Mario Puzo........This neighbor would also knit sweaters for my two daughters Dina and Donna back in the late 60ties and also for Elizabeth.....

Godfather Book Mario Puzo - Author http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Puzo

Recently my oldest daughter Donna located a Documentary Film Directed by David Gregory in the year 2001 that was not seen by the public and only recently placed on Youtube about one month ago........In this film clip you will see Aunt Grace make reference to her sister-in-law who was Elizabeth's mom Nancy........Until the viewing of this film clip the public including myself was not aware that after Marlon Brando the second highest paid actor in "The Godfather" was Joe Spinell.......The film clip is about 49 minutes long but gives more insight into the life and times of Joe Spinell who has appeared in many various films thru out his career........

In my personal opinion this film clip could and should also have concentrated more on Joe Spinell's accomplished work such as "The Godfather" (1972) trilogy series, "Brubaker" (1980), "Night Hawks" (1981), and many other Films where his acting was of a more serious and artistic nature....I have made the attempt to add some of that material below in order to show some of what was missing from Joe's documentary.....This clip is for adult viewing only, due to the nature of its content......

Joe Spinell Documentary by Director David Gregory (2001)

http://youtu.be/eqjvWjB8HOY

**** ************* SOME INTERESTING SIDE NOTES *******************

* When Joe Spinell passed away it was Uncle Gus who was called to the scene at the apartment, but later would not speak of the site, as I recall, as it was very disturbing in nature.....

* During a gathering of family and friends at a wake for Joe Spinell's brother, I can recall Joe asking me to later meet with him on some future date, to teach him how to make a mold of a human head, (that I had self-taught myself - See first photo below) in order to produce a likeness of a persons head....We never did get to meet for some reason or other and this educational process never occurred...After Joe's passing I always wondered if the reason for Joe's inquiry to produce a head was for his later film called "Maniac" (1980) that he was the Producer of and also had the starring role in it...(See first and only sculptured Ceaser photo below along with a photo of Joe Spinnel with a reproduced likeness of himself, followed by a video of Tom Savino explaining the reproduced head used for the "Maniac" film).....

* Just before I met my wife, It was Joe Spinell's brother Billy that took her to her High School Prom when she graduated at age 17....One day with her permission I hope to post a photo of that occurrence.....

In his film role in "Farewell, My Lovely" (1975) Joe played a character called 'Nick'....(Co-Incident...?)

* Although I am currently unable to document this fact I had read somewhere that it was Bob Hope who suggested to Joe Spagnuolo that he change his last name to Spinell.....

* Sylvester Stallone and Aunt Grace (Joe Spinell's sister) are the Godparents of Joe's daughter who is currently still amongst the missing from a very young age.....Today on November 19, 2014 I have further been advised that Joe Spinell was also the Godfather to one of Mr Stallone's sons (Sage Stallone).....

* Aunt Grace and Uncle Gus are the Godparents of my daughter Donna. ( In the future, a photo of this event will be installed ).....

* Adeline who arranged our blind date over 50 years ago, along with Mike my co-worker, has recently been in touch with Elizabeth on Facebook and currently resides in Florida.......A copy of Chapter 20 has been fowarded to her several months ago for her viewing.....Hope she enjoys it as much as I enjoyed writing it......

* Elizabeth believes there may be a factual error in the content of this writing and the "Joe Spinell Documentary" film...........

* Last night Elizabeth and I viewed the film "Gladiator" which had a new meaning to us as we walked amongst the Roman Coliseum and the Roman Forum while in Italy....There is a possible sequel in the works for the "Gladiator" film written by Nick Cave.....Today (July 14, 2013) I saw the script as so many others may have too...

* In wikipedia's 'History of Pizza' under 'Pizza in the United States' Totonno's grandson is my neighbor and resides but a few feet from my home...... In 1924, Totonno left Lombardi's to open his own pizzeria on Coney Island called Totonno's...... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totonno%27s

Also while the original Lombardi's closed its doors in 1984, it was reopened in 1994 just down the street and is run by Lombardi's grandson. Another quirky incident is that my chiropractor's great grandfather also worked at Lombardi's pizzeria than left to start his own restaurant now know as the famous 'Patsy's Pizzeria' where Frank Sinatra and the "Rat Pack" would frequently attend...Frank would always say that it was the best pizzeria around....It sure is a small world.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patsy%27s_Pizzeria

Nick.......October, 2011

This is a photo of a sculpture I made, along with a mold (not shown) to reproduce it....Note: My daughter Donna, jokingly had a pair of sun glasses (removable) added to it to resemble me the artist....This sculpture was actually made to represent Ceasar....It was made in 1968 and when sculptured had been noted with such date and the artist name (me-Nick Mondelli) carved into the base....(a click on this photo will enlarge it)....

While I'm discussing "Self-Taught" items I might as well present this photo of a fireplace I designed in my finished basement that was also built by yours truly back in 1981....There are so many books out there that are readily available for any one who would like to read and use them for building or construction, such as was accomplished in this case...(A click on this photo will enlarge it)...Incidentally, the two guns as shown in this photo are replicas from Spain and the large metal ring on the top left side was taken from a Beer Brewery that was torn down many years ago in Staten Island

Photo of head depicting Joe Spinnel and a reproduction of himself for his "Maniac" film (1980)....

Joe Spinell's severed head as it appeared in the "Maniac" Film (1980).....

Well written newsletter with more history of Joe Spinnel.....True or false...?....Who knows.!!!.....I believe the young lady in the photo with Joe Spinnel was an actress and actually his wife Jean Jennings in his real life....Although I never had the honor to meet her she certainly was a beautiful young lady....(A click on this photo will enlarge it....)

"Rocky" Film (1976) with Joe Spinnel and Sylvester Stallone

Joe Spinnel with Steven Spielberg when "Best Director" didn't go to Spielberg for the "Jaws" Film (undated).....I also saw the video of this scene and Steven Spielberg kept saying, "I didn't get it... I didn't get it" than Joe Spinnel got up to console Spielberg and told him that the same thing happened with the Godfather film and that is although It got the award for the best picture the director did not get the award and should have...He than told Spielberg that he too should have gotten the award as director because, " Who made the picture...?... THE SHARKS".!!!..?...To see this video click on the link above the words "Some Interesting Side notes" that can be found in the text above...

Joe Spinnel (Willie Cicci) In "The Godfather 2" film (1974) when I believe Joe got shot and hit by a car......It is my understanding that the studio wanted to put Joe in the third Godfather film but unfortunately they needed to have this scene and used another actor for the third Godfather film......

Joe Spinnel with Robert De Niro in the "Taxi" film (1976).....

Joe Spinnel (Willie Cicci) in "The Godfather" film (1972)....Uncle Gus, although not shown, also appeared in this scene.....If I had opted to go into the auditioning building with them, I too might have been in this scene.....(Tongue in cheek and wishful thinking.!!!....)

Great scene and beautiful acting job done by Joe Spinnel with Sylvester Stallone in the "Nighthawks" film (1981)....To this date, I still believe the acting job done by Joe in this scene was his best ever and probably deserved some kind of an acting award....I give Joe a lot of credit as he was never intimidated by anyone in Hollywood....

Joe Spinell (Willie Cicci) in "The Godfather" (1972) scene when he is being interrogated by Washington D. C. congressional politicians......

......Joe Spinnel and Mom.....From the photos on his wall I believe this picture was taken some time after his "Maniac" (1980) Film was made and completed....His mom (Filomena Spagnuolo) was in the Film "Easy Money" (1983) starring Rodney Dangerfield and Joe Pesci that was filmed mostly on Staten Island...Below you will find a Film Clip of one of her scenes in that Film...

.......A quiet and relaxed moment for Joe Spinnel (Willie Cicci) in the Godfather film...

I am currently unable to find a photo with Joe Spinnel included in the "Brubaker" Film, but as I recall from memory Joe was in many, many scenes in that Film...It appears that Robert Redford did not leave too much history of his film art work, but I will continue to search further....

Time Square Marquee for the "Maniac" Film......I recently read and learned that some of the scenes in this film were made in the towns of New Dorp and South Beach in Staten Island...

...One of these young men, I believe the one on the right side, is Totonno (Anthony Pero ) who eventually opened his Pizzeria in Coney Island...However today on this very evening of January 6, 2016 I spoke to Frank my neighbor and grandson of Totonno's Pizzeria and he said that the original of this photo is kept in their Totonno Pizzeria store in Coney Island ...Frank also mentioned that his grandfather is the one with the apron on which now leads me to believe that the fellow on the left side is Totonno...Frank also said that ' Totonno' was a nickname that his grandfather was called hence the name of the pizzeria was christened with that name...

Furthermore, also on today's date I had a visit with my chiropractor Anthony Banas who mentioned to me that there were three men in this photo and the third was his great grandfather known by the name Patsy's and he will attempt to find that photo, possibly by my next visit which will be this coming Friday, January 8th...

Just noticed, on closer inspection of this photo, that there is a third guy in this photo and he is in the cellar...Could this be Patsy...?...who also would leave Lombardi's Pizzeria and start his own pizza store with the name Patsy's where the great singer Frank Sinatra would also go visit with all his famous friends...January 7th 2016

Joe Spinnel and Robert Redford in a scene from the"Brubaker Film" that has recently been found

~ The photo of Caesar that I sculptured back in 1968 was recently photographed during the 2015 Christmas Holiday to be used in the Chapter 38 project ~

~ See 4th Comment below that will furnish the story for this Stallone photo ~


Video and audio clips

This video shows and explains the way Joe Spinnel's head was finally developed by Tom Savini for the "Maniac" film that I believe Joe was trying to make and accomplish the day he spoke to me at the funeral parlor....Apparently Joe had this "Maniac" film in mind way before it was actually made and produced in 1980.....


.....Joe Spinnel's mom in " Easy Money".....She was quite a funny lady......She told us that when she was in a Film Joe made sure that a stretch limo would pick her up and drive her to the studio....


.......Gladiator.....now we are free.......


It was 1959 on February 14th, Valentines Day, when I first met my beautiful wife Elizabeth... Frank said that it would be an honor for him to sing our song...



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Comments

nickmon4321 on Sep 5, 2013 said:

Last nights History Channel 2 ran a new two hour special reflecting "The Godfather" film With Francis Ford Coppala, Joe Spinnel RIP, Uncle Gus RIP, Al Pacino and many others ......This was a great story line that concerned all three films and I certainly enjoyed watching it emensely.....

[Reply to this comment]

nickmon4321 on Jan 5, 2015 said:

...On January 1, 2015 New Years Day the HBO channel ran all three of "The Godfather Series" films..Surprisingly we also enjoyed the third film that was made in 1990 as compared to one and two being made in 1972 and 1974....The more one watches the third film the more it becomes enjoyable.!!!....

[Reply to this comment]

nickmon4321 on Apr 16, 2015 said:

...New Rocky Film coming out with the name "Creed" and Sylvester Stallone playing the role of the boxers trainer...Looking forward to seeing this one.!!!...

[Reply to this comment]

nickmon4321 on Feb 27, 2016 said:

~ Sylvester Stallone has made the new Rocky Film called "Creed" and is up for the Oscar - Academy Award for his supporting role to be announced tomorrow night on Sunday, February 28, 2016...I have my fingers crossed that he wins the Oscar and the best of luck to him...You the man "Rocky"...

[Reply to this comment]

nickmon4321 on Jan 15, 2016 said:

Willies Njoroge K with Randy Selwano. December 14, 2015 ยท This is one of the SADDEST stories ever told in Hollywood. His name is Sylvestar Stallone. One of the BIGGEST and Most famous American Movie superstars. Back in the day, Stallone was a struggling actor in every definition. At some point, he got so broke that he stole his wife's jewellery and sold it. Things got so bad that he even ended up homeless. Yes, he slept at the New York bus station for 3 days. Unable to pay rent or afford food. His lowest point came when he tried to sell his dog at the liquor store to any stranger. He didn't have money to feed the dog anymore. He sold it at $25 only. He says he walked away crying.

Two weeks later,he saw a boxing match between Mohammed Ali and Chuck Wepner and that match gave him the inspiration to write the script for the famous movie,ROCKY. He wrote the script for 20 hours! He tried to sell it and got an offer for $125,000 for the script. But he had just ONE REQUEST. He wanted to STAR in the movie. He wanted to be the MAIN ACTOR. Rocky himself. But the studio said NO. They wanted a REAL STAR.

They said he "Looked funny and talked funny". He left with his script. A few weeks later,the studio offered him $250,000 for the script. He refused. They even offered $350,000. He still refused. They wanted his movie. But NOT him. He said NO. He had to be IN THAT MOVIE.

After a while,the studio agreed,gave him $35,000 for the script and let him star in it! The rest is history! The movie won Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing at the prestigious Oscar Awards. He was even nominated for BEST ACTOR! The Movie ROCKY was even inducted into the American National Film Registry as one of the greatest movies ever!

And do You know the first thing he bought with the $35,000? THE DOG HE SOLD. Yes,Stallone LOVED HIS DOG SO MUCH that he stood at the liquor store for 3 days waiting for the man he sold his dog to. And on the 3rd day,he saw the man coming with the dog. Stallone explained why he sold the dog and begged for the dog back. The man refused. Stallone offered him $100. The man refused. He offered him $500. And the guy refused. Yes,he refused even $1000. And,Believe it or Not,Stallone had to pay $15,000 for the same,same dog he sold at $25 only! And he finally got his dog back!

And today,the same Stallone who slept in the streets and sold his dog JUST BECAUSE he couldn't even feed it anymore,is one of the GREATEST Movie Stars who ever walked the Earth!

Being broke is BAD. Really BAD. Have You ever had a dream? A wonderful dream? But You are too broke to implement it? Too tiny to do it? Too small to accomplish it? Damn! I've been there too many times!

Life is tough. Opportunities will pass you by,just because you are a NOBODY. People will want your products but NOT YOU. Its a tough world. If you ain't already famous, or rich or "connected", You will find it rough.

Doors will be shut on You. People will steal your glory and crash your hopes. You will push and push. And yet NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.

And then your hopes will be crashed. You will be broke. Damn broke. You will do odd jobs for survival. You will be unable to feed yourself. And Yes, you may end up sleeping in the streets. It happens. Yes, it does.

BUT NEVER LET THEM CRUSH THAT DREAM. Whatever happens to You, Keep Dreaming. Even when they crush your hopes, Keep Dreaming. Even when they turn you away, Keep Dreaming. Even when they shut you down, Keep Dreaming.

NO ONE KNOWS WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF EXCEPT YOURSELF! People will judge You by HOW you look. And by WHAT You have. But please, Fight on! Fight for Your place in history. Fight for your glory. NEVER EVER GIVE UP!

Even if it means selling all your clothes and sleeping with the dogs, ITS OKAY! But AS LONG AS YOU ARE STILL ALIVE, Your STORY IS NOT OVER. TRUST ME.

Keep Up the Fight. Keep your dreams and hope alive. Go great .

Like and share if inspired. Lovely day people!

[Reply to this comment]

nickmon4321 on Jan 15, 2016 said:

~ Friends and Family while this is a great true story in the comment above and just before this one, there needs to be one more fact added and that is that Joe Spinnel RIP a friend of Mr Stallone back then, financially supported him so that he might have that wonderful dream and because Joe really believed in him ~

[Reply to this comment]

nickmon4321 on Feb 7, 2016 said:

~ And as we all know, as they say, "the rest is history" ~

[Reply to this comment]

nickmon4321 on May 10, 2016 said:

~ Today while discussing the '1905 Lombardi's' photo with the owner of Goodfella's Pizzeria located on Hylan Blvd in Staten Island I shared Chapter 20 with him in order for him to see this wonderful photo as he had never viewed it before today ~ Eventually I also shared the contents of all the chapter's too, for his viewing that he saved and he said he is expected to do a lot of future reading of all this material ~

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