Through extensive archival materials and interviews with scholars and notable Italian Americans such as Tony Bennett, Dion DiMucci, David Chase, Gay Talese and John Turturro, who speak from personal experience, “The Italian Americans” tells the story of those who played vital roles in shaping the relationship between Italians and mainstream American society. These include the stories of:
- Amadeo Giannini, who founded the Bank of Italy in 1904 in San Francisco to help Italians who could not secure loans or financial assistance elsewhere. He would later build it into the largest financial institution in the country and rename it Bank of America.
- Arturo Giovannitti, the union activist and poet who led the Lawrence Textile Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912.
- Rudolph Valentino, who introduced a new image of the sex symbol to movie audiences of the 1920s, yet still endured the prejudices directed at Italians of southern extraction.
- Joe DiMaggio, who became one of the most celebrated baseball players of his generation, but whose parents were labeled “Enemy Aliens” during World War II.
- U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who each broke new ground for Italian Americans in public service.
The series also presents the expertise and insights of historians, scholars, journalists and authors including Donna Gabaccia, Thomas Guglielmo, Gerald Meyer, Robert Orsi, Mary Anne Trasciatti, Lawrence DiStasi, Bruce Watson, Stephen Fox and Selwyn Raab. (excerpted from Beliefnet for educational purposes; byline: Neil Minow)