- About Al Teitelbaum
By Jeff Rense 1-15-2000
- A couple of you with long memories might
be wondering how it is that Al Teitelbaum came to be a Guest of Honor in
our upcoming Hollywood Celebrity Tribute, in light of the 'biography' allegedly
penned by him in the 60's under a pseudonym. Over the past months, I have
had the great fortune to get to know Al quite well, and have shared with
this eminently kind and unassuming gentleman many utterly remarkable and,
frankly, amazing conversations about Mario's life and career.
- First, let me clear the air on authorship
of the book: Al did not write it. The book was written by someone else
whom Al knew quite well. If there was one clear message that I heard repeatedly
during all of our numerous conversations about his long and, at times,
exhausting association with Mario as friend, and later business manager,
it was how angry Al remains to his day over what the editors did to that
manuscript before it was released. "At least 75% was deleted...all
of the grand and marvelous material about Mario's kind, loving, caring,
deeds and his devoted life as a husband and father."
- If you recall, the very same thing occurred
with Terry's book: the editors deleted the vast majority of the manuscript,
and along with it virtually all of the great vignettes and anecdotes of
Mario's enormous heart and his intense devotion to his wife and family.
Terry has spoken about that issue countless times.
- Al and his late first wife were eminently
close to...and involved in... the Lanza's lives...since first meeting Mario
and Betty before Mario's first picture at MGM. "They were just like
wonderful kids." During the course of our conversations, Al described
event after event which illustrated the Mario Lanza the press didn't want
to hear about. He talked about how Mario called Betty constantly whenever
he was away, sent her notes and gifts, and of how they were deeply in love
until the day he died. Never once, not a single time, was anything of a
derogatory or negatively-motivated nature uttered. Only the truth, magnificent...and
turbulent...as Al lived it.
- I can also state that without Al Teitelbaum,
we would NOT have either Serenade or The Seven Hills Of Rome (and probably
For The First Time) to view and treasure today. Those films probably would
never have been made. The story of how Al brought about and masterminded
the deal for Serenade, which was supposed to be made by Howard Hughes,
is a short book in itself. The story of how Al was flown to Italy by MGM
on a moment's notice to save and oversee the foundering production of 'Seven
Hills' is, well, amazing. Al literally guided the day by day production
of the entire film.
- So, for any of those few out there who
might question Al Teitelbaum's devotion to Mario and Betty, most certainly
the children, and to Mario's career, forget it. For those lucky enough
to attend the Tribute, you'll hear and see a man who, as did Terry, literally
gave a major portion of his life and life's energy to Mario. And a man
to whom Lanza fans the world over owe a debt of gratitude.
- Without Al's personal and often draining
self-sacrifice, the savagery that ultimately wore Mario's health down (NO,
there was no mafia hit) would likely have taken him away from this planet
many years earlier. (This is in NO WAY intended to demean or lessen in
any way, shape or form the massive contributions and devotion Terry gave
to Mario and Betty). This is simply another part of the Mario Lanza story
that no one really understands.
- Al is not a man out to promote himself,
and lives quietly, and gracefully, with his memories. In fact, so quietly
does Al live his life, that few even knew he was still with us. Even Derek
Mannering whose book on Mario will always be a classic, had no idea Al
was alive and was therefore unable to access his story during the writing
of the initial manuscript of his book: 'Mario Lanza.'
- I had to urge Al to attend the Tribute
and convince him that people were interested in him and need to hear his
story...and more of the wonderful side of the life and times of the man
with the greatest voice of them all. Fortunately, after thinking it over,
Al accepted, primarily because no one from Mario's past wants to see the
truth and wonderful side of Mario's life be revealed to the world any more
than he does.
- I am also pleased to announce that we
have come to an agreement that will allow me to write an illustrated book
with Al about at least a portion of the scope of his experiences and relationship
with Mario and Betty. I have been a journalist for over 25 years and can
assure you that Al Teitelbaum is the least known and understood of the
essential players in the life Mario Lanza. He is an utter gentleman who
has spoken only of Mario with love and the greatest compassion. As you
will hear on April 15...