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The Biography

April 24, 2020

Years ago, I was asked to write a piece for my father’s internet page at www.imdb.com as he was once an actor and the page needed a photo and a short biography. I thoughtfully supplied the only “head shot” photo (autographed to his mother ) I had from my father’s acting days in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s along with the following biography:

Gene Rizzi was born Eugenio Valentino Rizzi on April 1, 1913, in the tiny village of Tret, Austria (now Italy), near the Italian Alps. His father died seven months earlier after returning to Austria from the United States. Gene’s mother, Anna Maria Flor, raised him and his three siblings by herself and eventually moved the family back to Rock Springs, Wyoming, where the Rizzi family had originally had sheep ranching interests. Traveling to and from Europe many times as a youth, Gene settled in Vienna, Austria, to attend the Music Conservatory of Vienna as a violin student. After graduating from that prestigious institution, he began a career as a professional concert violinist. After playing violin in Europe, he moved back to the US to help support his mother and eventually left professional music in favor of an acting career. The Great Depression had just passed its peak and there was a brighter future ahead in Hollywood, and Gene headed there. He began his film career playing tough guys and thugs because of his rugged good looks, and appeared in many features, serials and shorts. These parts included the stranger in The Outlaw (1943), the young tough who discovers to his regret that his draw is not as quick as Billy the Kid’s. He also played “Corey” in The Green Hornet (1940) serial. Gene eventually moved on to more substantive parts, appearing with Tyrone Power in Crash Dive (1943) (interestingly, his character in that film was named Rizzi). Other pictures, such as Ten Gentlemen from West Point (1942), took advantage of Gene’s abilities with the violin. Still others utilized his expressive, youthful face, as in his uncredited role in To Be or Not to Be (1942) where he utters the Polish RAF pilot’s simple pensive line, “Warsaw!” In all of his film appearances, Gene supported the main characters with vigor and intelligence. In the early days of World War II, he was drafted into the US Army and served with distinction with the 396th Signal Corps in China. Shortly after his return to the US at the end of the war, Gene left the film business to devote his life to a new wife and future family. On July 12, 1947, he married Barbara Lee Allen in North Hollywood, California. In 1948, 1951 and 1952 three children were born to the Rizzi family. Gene never discussed his film career with most of his friends and family. Interestingly, though, even his grandchildren could pick out his distinctive voice from old Saturday afternoon replays of his movies. When he died on July 24, 2001, Gene Rizzi left a short film legacy that was perhaps outweighed by his commitment to family. A true artist with many skills, he was first and foremost a husband and father.

After this biography was up on the site for some years, two things happened. I started noticing that the biography I wrote was showing up word for word on other entertainment sites including the New York Times. Nobody ever contacted me to ask my permission nor did any of them credit me with being the author of the material. The second thing that happened was that an internet troll and self acclaimed critic left a nasty little comment on my father’s page criticizing the biography as being “disingenuous.” I looked at this individual’s other comments on this film site. There were many and all of them were nasty with not a good word to say.

The first issue I could do little about. The internet is famous for copying information without due credit. To hunt down the culprits would take another lifetime and more money than Midas. I did contact the New York Times to report the plagiarism with no response. Since their whole organization is basically based on plagiarism, I just let it go. I pondered what to do about the second incident. I could have asked IMDB to take the comment down and I’m sure they would have obliged. However in the end I just smiled and thought it best to let his comments stand as to publicly verify what an ass this person is.

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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8 Comments
  1. Fascinating blog about a handsome man. Trolls are mouthbreathing sewer dwellers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a beautiful bio for your father. Did he have another career after the film industry? I agree it’s best to let the insults roll over you and flush themselves away.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How interesting. Congratulations to your father.

    Like

  4. fascinating as I am a lover of vintage films. Trolls are cowards

    Liked by 1 person

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