Article On Victor Lanza A Fraud
"Victor 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 document.
     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. Bertolet
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

Victor Cocozza Paternity Claim
     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 to believe.
     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.

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 suburb hospital.
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 Florida.
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  author].
     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 Birth
     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 appear.

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 News.