Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A would-be Rudolph Valentino
In 1927 Alberto Rabagliati moved to Hollywood from native Italy as the winner of a Rudolph Valentino look-alike contest. He later recalled: "For someone like me, who had seen no more than Lake Como or Monza's cathedral so far, finding myself on board a luxury steamer with three cases full of clothes, a few rolls of dollars, granduchesses and countesses flirting with me was something extraordinary".
Back in Europe he became a singer. After a brief experience with Pippo Barzizza 's orchestra, he joined the Lecuona Cuban Boys , a Cuban band. He performed with his face painted black and made a hit with the song Maria la O.
While with the Lecuona Cuban Boys he met Giovanni D'Anzi who proposed him an audition with Italian state radio station EIAR . Rabagliati soon became a radio star, and in 1941 even had his own radio show. Every Monday night EIAR aired Canta Rabagliati ("Rabagliati sings"), with the singer presenting his most famous songs such as Ma l'amore no, Mattinata fiorentina, Ba-ba-baciami piccina, Silenzioso slow, Bambina innamorata.
He was so popular that his name was sung in the lyrics of La famiglia canterina, Quando canta Rabagliati, Quando la radio. Female audience went crazy for him, and covered him with red roses at every performance. At a time when anything foreign was banned, the idol Rabagliati was allowed to maintain his American-influenced style. Indeed, the Fascist government decided to make use of his popularity by choosing his song Sposi (c'č una casetta piccina) ("Wed (there's a little home)") as their demographic campaign anthem.
Rabagliati was active also on the stage until mid 1950s. He performed in musical reviews and commedies by Garinei and Giovannini .
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