In the later part of 1990 I had the good fortune to sit down with Enzo Stuarti and interview him for a two-hour special I did for National Public Radio as part of my Singer's Spotlight series, which was on NPR from 1989-1992. It was a pleasure to meet Enzo and his wife Thelma and then see both of his performances that night. He was quite good, with the repertoire ranging from popular songs to Neapolitan canzone to show tunes. - Tony Partington
To hear the NPR special on Enzo Stuarti, click the photo of Enzo.
Enzo Stuarti was born Lorenzo Scapone in Rome, Italy on March 3, 1919. His parents fled Italy for the United States when Benito Mussolini came to power, but Enzo was left behind with an aunt who placed him in the Monte Cassino Abbey, where he was raised, for a time, by the monks. He joined his family in Newark, New Jersey in 1934, where he finished school and worked with his father, a baker by trade. In 1940, he joined the United States Merchant Marine and was assigned aboard the Liberty ship SS Charles Pratt, a Panamanian based tanker. On December 21, 1940, the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat. He survived the attack and after his service in the Merchant Marine, he returned to Italy for voice training in order to pursue his ambition of singing professionally. He also studied for a time at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Broadway Career Stuarti's first Broadway show was Hollywood Pinafore followed by Nellie Bly. Then in 1946, he was cast in the role of Passepartout in the Cole Porter/Orson Welles musical Around the World In 80 Days. Additional Broadway credits included As the Girls Go, Two on the Aisle, Me and Juliet, and By the Beautiful Sea. During this time he was performing under the stage names "Larry Laurence" (sometimes spelled "Lawrence") and "Larry Stuart". Recording Career Toward the end of 1954, he took the name "Enzo Stuarti" at the suggestion of Ed Sullivan, who thought he should have a more Italian-sounding name. He began reworking his voice and focusing on a career as a semi-classical vocalist. His first big break came when Jubilee Records signed him in 1960. Stuarti's debut album, We're Not Strangers (JPL 1041) enjoyed moderate success, but it was a last-minute engagement at the Plaza Hotel's Persian Room that began to get the singer noticed. The press response was very favorable and this prompted Jubilee to try a two-faceted promotion push. First came his second album, Enzo Stuarti at the Plaza (JLP 5022) followed by presenting the singer in an arranged promotional concert at Carnegie Hall, which was recorded and later released as a two-record set, Enzo Stuarti Arrives at Carnegie Hall (JGM2-5055). Well recorded and well produced, the album helped to establish Stuarti's standing as a vocalist and night club performer, and he considered the performance to be one of the high points of his career. Next came a tribute album to the late tenor Mario Lanza. He released over 30 recordings for several labels, including Jubilee, Epic, Columbia, Roulette, Diplomat, and Spin-O-Rama. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was a frequent guest on televisions shows such as The Tonight Show and appeared in a series of commercials for Ragú spaghetti sauce, where his catchphrase was "That's A'Nice!" He played major venues in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, and Atlantic City. Personal Life While studying in Rome, he responded to an advertisement by Ferrari race cars for test drivers. He needed the income and applied, driving professionally for a brief period. Enzo developed a passion for cars, eventually owning several hundred. Stuarti married twice. In 1942 he married Esther Mesce, with whom he had two children. They divorced in 1972. He married Thelma Donohoo in 1975. He retired in 2004, and died on December 16, 2005, in Midland, Texas. (from the Wikipedia biography on Enzo Stuarti written by Tony Partington)
Enzo Stuarti on the Mike Douglas Show 1971 (broadcast from Philadelphia)
1971 Ragu Spaghetti Sauce Commercial
A Las Vegas billboard in 1964.
Enzo Stuarti performing on the popular television show The Hollywood Palace in 1967.
Headshot from 1946 (as Larry Lawrence).
Enzo with daughter Andrea.
Enzo always loved cars - he was a semi-professional race car driver and in his early career, he was a test driver for Ferrari. One of his pet projects was the Stuarti Sonata built by Enzo in 1970 and 1971. It was powered by a 4-Liter Lamborghini V12 engine. It was built in a body shop owned by Enzo Stuarti located in New Jersey.