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3 Italian Americans Pg. 3

October is Italian American Heritage Month. This page is a continuation of the Italian Americans page. It summaries 15 more of 32 famous Italian Americans, one for each day of October, and 1 for good luck. When available we link to websites that follow the subject.

William Paca

The official seal of the state of Maryland reads Fatti, Maschii, Parola Femine, which is Italian for “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words.” It is the only state motto written in Italian, and Maryland also was the only state that was home to a signer of the Declaration of Independence who was of Italian heritage. His name is William Paca

William Paca’s ancestors came to America during the mid-1600s. Robert Paca was the first to arrive, coming to the colonies from England. He married an English woman, received a grant of land in Anne Arundel County and had one son, Aquila, the grandfather of William.

William Paca was born on October 31, 1740, to a wealthy planter in Maryland. In 1752, William and his brother were sent to attend school at the Academy and Charity School. When he had finished his studies, he attended the College of Philadelphia and graduated with a bachelor of the arts degree in 1759. In 1762, he achieved a master of the arts degree.

His signature can be found among 55 others, on the Declaration of Independence. Years later, as a delegate to the Maryland Convention, he voted to adopt the U.S. Constitution. Paca’s public service included terms as a Maryland state senator, its chief justice and as a three-term governor. He also was appointed a federal district judge by President George Washington.

Websites: William Paca House
William Paca was a United States politician
The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence Click Here
William Paca and the American Revolution

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Tony Bennett

Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926 at St. John’s Hospital in Long Island City, Queens, NY. He is the son of grocer John Benedetto and seamstress Anna Suraci, and was the first member of his family to be born in a hospital. His father John had emigrated from Podàrgoni, a rural eastern district of the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria. Anna had been born in the U.S. shortly after her parents also emigrated from the Calabria region in 1899.

Raised in Astoria to an Italian-American family, The essence of his longevity and high artistic achievement was imbued in him in his loving, childhood home in the Astoria section of Queens where he was born on August 3, 1926. His father died when Tony was 10 and his mother, Anna, raised Tony and his older brother and sister, John and Mary, in a home surrounded by loving relatives who were Tony’s first fans, filling him with encouragement and optimism. He attended the High School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan, where he continued nurturing his two passions: singing and painting. From the radio, he developed a love of music hearing Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and James Durante.

Bennett began singing at an early age, known professionally as Tony Bennett, an Italian American singer. He is also a painter, having created works under his birth name that are on permanent public display in several institutions. He is the founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, Queens, New York.

No one in popular American music has recorded for so long and at such a high level of excellence than Tony Bennett. In the last ten years alone he has sold ten million records.

Website: Tony Bennett

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Perry Como

Pierino RonaldPerryComo was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. He was the seventh of ten children and the first American-born child of Pietro Como and Lucia Travaglini, who both immigrated to the US in 1910 from the Abruzzese town of Palena, Italy. He did not begin speaking English until he entered school, since the Comos spoke Italian at home. The family had a second-hand organ his father had bought for $3; as soon as little Pierino was able to toddle, he would head to the instrument, pump the bellows, and play music he had heard by ear. Como was a member of the Canonsburg Italian Band along with the father of singer Bobby Vinton, bandleader Stan Vinton, who was often a customer at his barber shop.

Young Como started helping his family at age 10, working before and after school in Steve Fragapane’s barber shop for 50¢ a week. By age 13, he had graduated to having his own chair in the Fragapane barber shop, although he stood on a box to tend to his customers. It was also around this time that young Como lost his week’s wages in a dice game. Filled with shame, he locked himself in his room and did not come out until hunger got the better of him. He managed to tell his father what had happened to the money his family depended on. His father told him he was entitled to make a mistake and that he hoped his son would never do anything worse than this. When Perry was 14, his father became unable to work because of a severe heart condition. Como and his brothers became the support of the household. Despite his musical ability, Como’s primary ambition was to become the best barber in Canonsburg. Practicing on his father, young Como mastered the skills well enough to have his own shop at age 14. Read More

Connie Francis

The 20th Century produced many popular singers. Of all the great “girl singers,” no one personified her generation, or was more idolized by millions across the world than Connie Francis, who was born Concetta Maria Franconero on December 12, 1937 in the Italian section of Newark, New Jersey, the daughter and first child of George and Ida Franconero, Italian-American parents.​​

From the age of three, George Franconero recognized his daughter’s outstanding talent and, at his persistence, she began taking accordion lessons. However, her musical ingenuity would not be served well by the accordion, but because she was blessed with a golden voice; one that the world would come to adore, and which would inspire and touch the hearts of many millions.
Website: Connie Francis

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