Saturday, July 14, 2012

Italian American Women You May Know.

Greetings Loyal Horde! Today's blog is a tribute to many successful Italian American women who made their way into history. Usually I am all about the Godfather, Goodfellas, Donnie Brascoe, and all those really cool Mob guys. But today I'm taking a look at the female side of Italian Americans.

Maria Francesca Cabrini was born July 15, 1850 in San Angelo, Italy. Mother Francis Cabrini was the first Italian American saint, she founded 14 American colleges, 98 schools, 28 orphanages, 8 hospitals, 3 training schools, and numbers of other institutions with the help of over 4,000 sisters she recruited for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, a group she also founded. Mother Cabrini immigrated to the United States in 1889 and became a US citizen in 1909. She died in 1917 and was canonized in 1949.

The woman who inspired the image of WW2 icon "Rosie the Riveter" was Rosie Bonavita of Long Island, New York.

One of the earliest women to star in politics was Ella T Grasso of Connecticut. She was the 1st woman ever elected governor. Born in 1919 the same year as my mother, she was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1970. Mrs.Grasso was also the 1st Italian-American woman elected to congress. She served until 1975 when she was elected to Governor of Connecticut.

Bolder yet in Italian American women in politics comes Geraldine Ann Ferraro, the 1st woman to run for Vice President of the United States. In 1984 Mrs. Ferraro ran on the presidential ticket with Walter Mondale, but lost to Ronald Regan. Ms. Ferraro was born in Newburgh, New York on August 26,1935. She skipped 3 grades, finished high school at 16, and won a college scholarship. She then taught 2nd grade in the New York public schools for 5 years. During that time, she also put herself through Fordham Law School at night. She served in Congress, representing the 9th Congressional District in Queens, New York, from 1979 to 1985.

In the Hollywood celebrity world Sophia Loren is considered to be the most famous Italian actress of all time.Though she is not American by citizenship, her many years of living in Hollywood and working in American films gives her the honorary status. Miss Loren was born Sofia Villani Scicolone on Sept. 20, 1934. She grew up during World War 2 in Pozzuoli, a town near Naples. By the mid 50s she had become a star in Hollywood movies. Co-starred along side Frank Sinatra. In 1960, her acclaimed performance in "Two Women" earned her a multitude of awards and, along with the Cannes, Venezia and Berlin festivals' best performance prizes, she was the first actor to win a major category Academy Award (Best Actress) for a non-English language performance.

In the early 1900s, Angela Bambace, and 18-year-old Italian American woman who worked in a shirtwaist factory in New York, organized the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) in New York and Maryland. She was elected Vice President of the ILGWU in 1956, becoming the 1st woman to penetrate the all-male leadership of the ILGWU. She retired in 1972.

In a profession still dominated by men, actress Penny Marshall (Carol Penny Masciarelli) made the tough and remarkable transition from star of a hit TV series "Laverne & Shirley," to one of the few successful women directors in Hollywood. Her 2nd film "Big" in 1988 made her the 1st woman director in American history to direct a film that earned $100 million. Her other films include "Jumping Jack Flash," Awakenings," and "A League of Their Own."

One of the all time great singers, songwriter, actress, dancer, and entrepreneurs, Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan on August 16, 1958. Her birth name is Madonna Louise Ciccione. She has sold more then 300 million records world wide and is recognized as the world's top-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records. Considered to be one of the "25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century" by Time Magazine for being an influential figure in contemporary music. Madonna also placed at number one on VH1s "100 Greatest Women in Music". She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2008, her first year of eligibility.

American songwriter and singer Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, most famously known as Lady Gaga,  was born in New York City on March 28th, 1986. She was raised in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and started attending NYU's Tisch School of The Arts by the time she was 17. In early 2009, Gaga won the Grammy for Best Dance Recording for her 2nd hit song, "Poker Face", off of her first album The Fame, which won the Grammy for Best Dance/Electronica Album.  In 2010, Gaga won 8 out of the 13 nominations she received at The MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of The Year for "Bad Romance". Among her many acts as a philanthropist, her biggest achievement to date is starting the Born This Way Foundation, an organization that's main focus is on teen empowerment and issues.

A Big Shout out to all of my Italian American sisters. May you all find success in whatever you desire to dream! Proud to be an Italian American.



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