Lanza A Fraud! Mario Lanza Never
Fathered A Illegitimate
Son! Here's Proof!"
by Maynard Bertolett
Victor Lanza A Fraud! "Give It Up Victor. If
You continue To Live This Lie, It Will Only Make Further Unpleasant Action
Necessary." Mario Lanza Never Fathered A Illegitimate Son! Here's Proof!
What The Press Didn't Tell The American People... The Real True Facts!
By Maynard F. Bertolet, Former President Of
The Mario Lanza Institute
Golden Music Memories Note: We
thank Mr. Maynard F. Bertolet for taking the time to write this article
to us to enlighten our readers on the true facts that singer Mario Lanza,
did not father an illegitimate son. We are print-ing Mr. Bertolet's
article exactly as he wrote it, starting from his letter to American Liberty
Editor. Also a letter was sent to Mr. Victor Cocozza who claims he
is the ille-gitimate son of the famous singer Mario Lanza. Victor
Cocozza never acknowledged Mr. Bertolet's Letter. The two Letters
are as follows:
February 23, 1995
Dear Mr. Dee:
Our Publicity Director,
Mr. Joe Curreri, shares your timely
publication with me. I found the February,
1995 more interesting than usual, the reason being your page 20 article
"Why Do People claim They Are Illegitimate Rela-tives To Famous People."
Enclosed you will
find my document on the subject. Per-haps you will find it interesting.
This document has pro-vided the factual talking points for all people who
are quoted in various articles, telecasts and broadcasts.
Upon completion of
the original document in July of 1991, I mailed the first copy to Victor.
Included is a copy of my letter to him at that time. To this date
he has never been in contact with me. Be that as it may, shortly
after re-ceipt, he changed many aspects of his story to agree with the
I should also like
to take this opportunity to thank you for your continuing support of our
organization. Your kindness is very much appreciated by all of us.
Thank you very much.
Very truly yours,
Maynard F. Bertolet
The Letter To Victor Cocozza From Maynard F.
Victor Cocozza Paternity Claim
July 23, 1991
Regretfully, it is
my duty to inform you that your claim to be the illegitimate son of Mario
Lanza and Maria Margelli can be proven false. On the very day your birth,
Maria Margelli was already living in Santa Barbara, Cali-fornia and working
as a domestic. Her life and movements before and after your birth
are now a matter of record. She never married, never gave birth,
and is not living in Florida. As a matter of fact, she passed away
on April 30, 1974.
Give it up Victor.
If you continue to live this lie, it will only
make further unpleasant action necessary.
The attached document,
or an abridgment, will be sent to interested parties, newspapers, and others
who have been led to believe your story.
If you wish, I should
be willing to further discuss the matter with you.
Very truly yours,
Maynard F. Bertolet
On April 28, 1991,
the Mario Lanza Institute presented a "Spring
Festival" at Dugan's in Northeast Philadelphia.
I was on the committee for that event. During the course of those
activities, I was invited to
attend a dinner party at the San Remo restaurant
on Front Street in Philadelphia.
This particular invitation
held a significant interest for those
enamored with the Mario Lanza voice.
We were ad-vised that a man claiming to be the illegitimate son of Mario
Lanza attend, and sing for us! Needless to say, much of the group
was excited beyond the point of rational thought. Af-ter all, to
share an evening with the son of a man we all re-vere was a plum indeed.
In addition, to be let in on the ground floor of the most significant Lanza
event since his untimely demise was especially heady.
After what seemed
to be an interminable delay, the eve-ning in question finally arrived,
and with it, the man claim-ing to be the oldest child of Mario Lanza.
In the interests of expedience, this gentlemen will henceforth be referred
to as Victor Cocozza, his name of record.
Victor was accompanied
by a professional associate, Donna Sadlicka, a lyric soprano. Both
sang and did a cred-ible job. Donna was outgoing, warm and friendly,
es-sen-tially a lovely dinner partner. Victor was engaging, pleasant
and friendly. His voice was warm, mellow and beautiful that night,
and the duets with Donna brought back nostalgic moments from golden days.
The evening seemed to speed by on gossamer wings.
Most of the group
appeared to accept Victor's story without
reservation and/or evidential documentation.
In fact, the thought was expressed by multiple people present that we wanted
The following items
summarize the claims Victor made that night and on other occasions, to
at least seven different people. In addition, in the author's possession
are newspa-per clippings and a publicity release by Victor making the same
Claims Made By Victor Cocozza
1. Victor Cocozza
is the illegitimate son of Mario Lanza and Maria Margelli who were intimate
in New York City during 1943 and 1944. Mario Lanza subsequently
had Victor's name legally changed to Lanza.
2. Maria Margelli
came to Philadelphia near the end of her pregnancy, met Mario Lanza's Mother,
Maria Lanza Cocozza, and gave birth to Victor in a Philadelphia or a Philadelphia
3. Victor was
born July 15, 1994. His name on the birth certificate was Alfredo
Arnold Cocozza, the Mother's maiden name was Maria Margelli and the father's
name was Alfredo Arnold Cocozza.
4. Maria Margelli
took her infant son Victor to Argentina where he was raised.
5. When Victor
was a small boy, Mario Lanza took him to the home of Kathryn Grayson and
introduced him as his son.
6. Maria Margelli
at some later unknown date moved to some unknown location in Florida.
7. Maria Margelli
married, gave birth to other children, is currently alive and living in
8. Within the
past two years, Victor decided to publicly declare his paternal parent
and began singing songs identified with the career of Mario
Lanza in tribute to him.
9. The sole
item offered was Victor's driver's license in the name of Alfredo Arnold
Cocozza with a birth date of July 15, 1944.[Not shown to the
During the evening,
logic intruded upon beautiful thoughts and tendered to tarnish some of
the luster. At vari-ous times the objective reasoning process made
the fol-low-ing mental observations.
A. Firstly, why did
Victor wait until this late date to de-clare his parentage? His answer
was that his Mother, Ma-ria Margelli, did not want Victor to suffer the
same heart-break as his Father. This did not compute since, according
to Victor, his Mother was still alive and the same reasoning would apply
today that had continued to restrain him for thirty odd years.
B. Secondly, Victor
refused to disclose the present street and city address, or the married
name of Maria Margelli; the reason being that she had remarried and left
the past behind. It appeared to me that a more logical answer would
be that the entire Maria Margelli story was a
fabrication, drawn from a reading of the Mario
Lanza biography by Terry Robinson.
C. Thirdly, Victor
claims to have been born July 15, 1944. On May 22, 1944, Mario Lanza
made six recordings for Maria Margelli at the Meltone Studios in New York
City. On that occasion, Maria stated to an open micro-phone that
Mario was shortly leaving for California. In ad-dition, Maria stated
that Mario was a wonderful man. Hardly the words of a seven-month
pregnant woman talking to the father of her unborn child who was leaving
her shortly and did not plan marriage.
D. The final chain
of logic seemed to me the most impor-tant. The South Philadelphia
Italian community is insular, committed to each other, protective, and
places the greatest importance upon family and friends. It would
have been im-possible for Maria Margelli to come to Philadelphia in 1944,
eight or more months pregnant, contact Mario Lanza's par-ents and give
birth to the child of Mario in a lo-cal hospital without the entire Italian
community being aware and pass-ing comment upon the affair. In addition,
this happening would today still be open knowledge and well known in the
community. The mere fact that Victor made this claim tended to discredit
the entire story in my mind.
Be that as it may,
history has proven that logic alone cannot
overcome emotional "feelings," especially
once words are brandied about making a commitment of sorts. Wars
have been fought for lesser reasons.
Officially, the Mario
Lanza Institute took the only proper course that it was a family affair
and no additional com-ments would be offered. Unfortunately, this
did not still all voices inside the Institute, and a "quasi" acceptance
of Vic-tor's claim remained within a coterie of membership. This
reached alarming proportions when Victor, Donna, and an accompanist were
brought to Philadelphia May 30 through June 2, 1991. Victor was openly
greeted, billed and intro-duced as Mario Lanza's son. Newspaper articles
stated the same premise. In addition, not only had some In-stitute
members accepted Victor's claims,
but influential prospec-tive members categorically
affirmed his claims to be true in public statements. The ball was
indeed rolling downhill without benefit of proof.
The question may
now be asked, "Why become in-volved?" Had I not been a member of
the Mario Lanza In-stitute, logic alone would have sufficed for myself.
How-ever, if the story was, as I believed, untrue, it would be do-ing a
disservice to the memory of Mario Lanza, dishonoring his name, and imputing
disrespect. These undesirable at-tributes would also apply to his
remaining family, and by ex-tension, the institute itself. Consequently,
I elected to be-come involved.
Why would Victor
make false claims? The answer would seem to be quite simple.
What better advantage to have in a singing career than to be the son of
a world class entertainer? Victor belies this logic claiming that
he has other employment and does not need to sing. This may or may
not be true, however, a case can be made as to why at all if financial
rewards are not the issue? The fact remains that once bitten
by the show business bug, the exhilaration
remains unabated and the desire lives on ........
The following three
page narrative can be proven by re-search documents, books, and transcripts
of interviews and telephone conversations. It should be compared
with the Victor Cocozza claims in this document.
Maria Margelli Never Married And Never Gave
Maria Margelli was
born October 8, 1902 in Bologna, Italy and emigrated to New York City in
the 1930's as a do-mestic. During 1942 she was living in the Willard
Hotel in New York City when she heard a rich tenor voice from ten floors
below. "I went down stairs to the music room," Miss Margelli said,"
and traced the voice to a 21 year old Italian boy named Alfredo Arnold
Cocozza. He went to fame as the immortal Mario Lanza. We were
close friends until he died in 1959 at the age of 38."
It is not known
whether an intimate relationship devel-oped
between the two, however the Robinson Lanza
biogra-phy, "A Tragic Life" infers that Mario's Mother, Maria Co-cozza,
believed it to be true. However, it must also be taken into consideration
that other statements made by Mr. Robin-son about Miss Margelli in his
book are apocryphal. In ad-dition, the 19 year age difference between
the two might possibly have dampened love's young ardor. Also, the
tone of the young Cocozza's speaking voice, during the 1944 re-cording
session for Maria, appears to be respectful and not necessarily amatory.
Miss Margelli arrived
in Santa Barbara, California, probably during 1944, as a maid-companion
to a wealthy Montecito woman. Upon the death of her employer in 1945,
she found herself stranded in Santa Barbara. She created a career
for herself as a correspondent for the "L'Italia Voce del Popolo," a San
Francisco Italian language newspaper. In 1947 inaugurated the "Italian-American
Family Hour" on KTMS in Santa Barbara
featuring recorded Italian Op-era. She
continued this broadcast until 1965. In addition, she was involved
in several civic functions and was suitably honored. For example,
in 1968 she received the Diploma of Honor and Laurel and Gold from the
Academia Tibernia in Rome for "exaltation and advancement of science, letters
and the arts."
Maria never married
and never gave birth. She was liv-ing in a Santa Barbara convalescent
home when she con-tracted pneumonia and died at the age of 71 on April
30, 1974 at 5:30 A.M. The author has on file a copy of her death
certificate, Book 106, Page 92, Certificate Number 651.
Needless to say,
she never lived in Argentina or Florida. At the time of her death,
her Attorney, Paul G. Sweetser, sought to locate her only known relatives,
a brother and sis-ter, believed to have been living in Italy. PA., State
Shows No Birth Record In 1944 On Cocozza Kathryn Grayson met Victor and
his wife, the former Susie Gomez, in San Diego, California during February
of 1987. He was using the name Victor Cocozza. Miss Gray-son
was inclined to believe that Victor was
the son of Mario Lanza. This was based
on Victor's physical appearance and Miss Grayson's "gut" feelings.
No documentary was submit-ted, nor was any requested.
Miss Grayson auditioned
Victor and was impressed with his voice, but recognized his need for study
before embark-ing on a professional career. Consequently she made
ar-rangements to have Victor study with her voice teacher, Derek Graydon,
at her residence. victor came one time and took one lesson.
He never returned for subsequent study.
Miss Grayson does
not have any recollection of Mario Lanza bringing Victor to meet Grayson
when he was a young boy and introducing him as his son. Nor did Victor
remind her about such an incident after they met. If Victor's story
about meeting Kathryn Grayson as a young boy and being introduced to her
by Mario as his son had any basis of truth, he would definitely have brought
it to her attention, and she would surely
remembered such an incident.
Miss Grayson had
one final indirect communication in reference to Victor. Subsequent
to Victor's neglect to return for additional study, his agent called and
asked when she and Victor were going on tour together. Needless to
say, no ar-rangements had ever been made for such a tour. Miss Gray-son's
secretary remembers that the agent was
oriental, but cannot recall his name.
Finally, an official
employed by the Pennsylvania Vital Records Department stated officially
on June 17, 1991 that the state of Pennsylvania has no record of an Alfredo
Arnold Cocozza being born on July 15, 1944. As a matter of fact,
nobody named Cocozza or Margelli was born in Pennsylva-nia on that day.
Illegitimate Son Claim Is Obviously A Falsehood
Victor us currently
living at 3080 Granville, Apartment 209 in Waukeegan, Illinois, zip code
60085. He is using the name Victor Cocozza, not Lanza, refuting the
claim that his name was legally changed.
It is not necessary
to spend additional time and effort delving
into the Victor Cocozza saga; more than sufficient
documentation already exists. Since the statements offered by Victor
Cocozza on page two of this document can be proven false, only one conclusions
can be drawn. The claim of Victor Cocozza to be the illegitimate son of
Mario Lanza and Maria Margelli is obviously a falsehood.
Personally, I like
Victor and enjoyed his concert at the San Remo Restaurant, although I was
greatly disappointed with his subsequent performance on June 1, 1991.
He is a personable young man, and if his assets were correctly and truthfully
managed, would be a credit to us all. His concerts should be sung
in memory to the man, and not to a fraudu-lent parent, that can easily
be proven false. Press Slants News Release From Mario Lanza Institute.
Addendum Number One:
The Sunday November 27, 1994 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer printed
a lengthy article about the Victor Lanza affair beginning on the first
page and concluding on page 20. It was written by the In-quirer Staff
Writer Carol Morello and titled "Tenor look-alike gets cold shoulder from
Star's circle." The sub-title was "Victor Lanza says he is Mario
Lanza's son. No, is Phila's chorus."
Ms Morello interviewed
several people including Victor "Cocozza."
There are three rather interesting new points
as described by Ms. Morello.
1. "To this day, Victor Lanza
continues to obscure his identity. When he pulled his Illinois driver's
license from his wallet, he held it so it was possible to read his name,
but he placed his thumb over the license number and refused to relinquish
it for even a minute."
2. "Lanza said that he took
classes in electronic engineering from the University of California at
Los Angeles ... Records at the UCLA registrar's office do not include anyone
who registered for any class under the name of Victor Cocozza, Victor
Lanza or Victor Lanza Cocozza."
3. "Lanza said that ... he is employed
to develop computerized hotel mini-bars for a company named "In-Room Services."
Such a company is not listed in the Chicago-area telephone directories
..."Although I supplied all the provable data and set up the majority of
the interviews for Ms. Morello's article, myself or this document was not
quoted. In Addition, the people who were quoted had only this document
as a source for provable statements. The Mario Lanza Institute was
mentioned several times without reference to the fact that I had previously
verbally and in writing indicated that the Institute was not involved and
that any member statements were their own opinions and not necessarily
that of the Mario Lanza Institute. It was written with a slant to
describe Institute members as an emotional lot without benefit of analytical
approach. The article had several inaccuracies that had previously
been pointed out to MS. Morello by myself.
Once Again, There Were Factual Misstatements
Addendum Number Two: On January 9, 1995 at 7:00 P.M. on Philadelphia
Channel 10, the syndicated TV daily tabloid series American Journal had
six minute piece on Victor. He was referred to as "The love child
of Mario Lanza."
The producer, Steve Livingstone, had visited
my residence on Tuesday, December 27, 1994 for five hours of in-terviews
and discussion. I produced several documents proving that Victor
could not be the son of Mario Lanza and Maria Margelli. In addition I set
up interviews for him with two of Mario's children, Damon Lanza and Ellisa
Lanza Bregman. Steve subsequently chose to not include any of my
footage in the piece. Ellisa Lanza Bregman, Damon Lanza, Victor and
Joe Sciliano footage was used. The piece was as expected, lacking
weight, fact and substance, while at the same time, entertaining and noncommittal.
Once again, there were factual misstatements. The "as telecasted"
version is available for viewing if requested.
Circumstantial pieces of evidence were developed
however. During Victor's interview he promised to produce his birth
certificate. Following the interview, Steve called Victor repeatedly
and was refused a copy. Of lessor importance, during the early part
of the interview Victor claimed the name on his birth certificate was Victor
Lanza Cocozza. Later on, he stated that the name "Lanza" did not
Maynard F. Bertolet Was The Former
President Of The Mario Lanza Institute And Museum In Philadelphia, PA.,
When This Article Was Written To My Former Publication: American Liberty