Friday, February 10, 2012

WDYTYA - Marisa Tomei

***SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen tonight's episode of Who Do You Think You Are with personality Marisa Tomei then you may want to wait to read the following until after you do! This post contains a review of the episode, aired at 8p.m. EST on Friday, February 10th, 2012.

Marisa Tomei, star of film, television and theatre, is the subject of tonight's episode. Oscar winner for her role in My Cousin Vinny, and Oscar nominated twice more, Marisa Tomei is recognized internationally.

Tomei grew up in Brooklyn, she now lives in Los Angeles, and is of Italian roots.

Tomei states, "Being from Brooklyn, and being Italian, defines who I am."

She states that family legend has that her mother's grandfather was shot in a bar over a woman by a jealous husband, or it may have been over a debt owed. She wanted to know anything she could find out about the situation and event, and anything about her Mom's family. So the show starts with a journey to her parents home in Brooklyn, where she meets with her Dad, her Mom Addie, and her brother Adam.

Addie brings out a photograph of her great-grandparents and their children, including her grandfather, Francesco Leopoldo Bianchi. Addie states that "Leopoldo" was murdered in 1910. She'd like to know why.

She states that Adelaide Canavaro married Leopoldo Bianchi. Tomei wants to dicover more about the Canavaro family in her search as well.

So Marisa is off to Italy. She begins her journey in Cecina, Tuscany, Italy.

She starts at the Cecina Municipal Cemetery, where she is met by Italian Guide, Fabio de Segni. He introduces her to Sgr. Guigareldo, the Cemetery Caretaker, who searches for 1910 documents for Francesco Leopoldo Bianchi, and finds nothing. But he then searches in the 1911 documents and finds that Marisa's Great-Grandfather's body was transported to Cecina on 10 March 1911. The document states he died from illness.

Marisa is determined that there is more to the story, and continues her journey.

She finds that Leopoldo died on 07 March1911, but does not know where he died.

Before leaving the cemetery she finds his grave, and that of his wife, Adelaide. Leopoldo had come from Cecina, but Adelaide was originally from Elba.

So Tomei heads by sailboat to the island of Elba. Elba lies 12 miles off the coast of Tuscany. It was here that Napoleon was held in exile for a year. Marisa heads to the local parish for records of the Canavaro family, and meets with Fr. Biancalani.

Together the Father and Tomei look over the Baptistry Register. Here they find Adelaide Canavaro, daughter of Arturo baptized on 01 May 1887. And in 1855, Arturo, son of Guiseppe was baptized. And so on, for ten generations! All the way back to Alesandra, who was born in the 16th century.

Marisa heads to the Historical Municipal Archive and meets Dr. Gloria Peria, who has found documents for the marriage of Leopoldo and Adelaide on 25 June 1904. Leopoldo was listed as a commercial merchant. A little investigative work, and they have discovered that Leopoldo's family have made business ties with a Terilio Lazzerechi who owned and operated a lime kiln.  In 1909 Leopoldo and his wife move to Cecina. It was here that Terilio Lazzerchi shot and killed Leopoldo in 1911.

Marisa now heads to Castiagoncello, where Leopoldo was murdered and met with Prof. Steven Hughes, a historian. He discovers that on 07 Mar 1911, at 6p.m. Leopoldo was murdered by Terilio Lazzerechi outside of the Morelli's cafe.

There was an indictment against Lazzerechi, and it appears from reading the indictment that Leopoldo's brother Tito was fired by Lazzerchi. His honor, and thus that of his family, had been harmed. Leopoloi, defending Tito's honor, struck Lazzechi across the face. Lazerechi retrieved a handgun from his person, and shot Leopoldo throgh the occiptal lobe [back of the head], and he fell down dead.

Marisa is now off to Lucca where Lazzerchi went on trial. Here she meets with Prof. Tamburini, a historian, who shows her trial transcripts, as well as newspapers of the day. Lazzerechi was acquitted, and the event ruled as self-defense. There was an appeal a year later, and Lazzerechi was found guilty of carrying a prohibited weapon and confined for 38 days, and fined 88 lire. After this, Lazzerechi had to disappear from the area, as everyone despised him for what he had done.

Marisa meets up with her guide, Fabio di Segni, once more. He located a Rosetta Vanucci, who was an old relation of Marisa's. In frail health, she was unable to meet with Marisa, but did write her a long letter, and sent her a photograph of her great-grandmother, Adelaide Canavaro Bianchi. Rosetta was Marisa's great-grandfather's first cousin.

She assured Marisa that Adelaide went on to have a great life. She married again to a Marine. And her son, Marisa's grandfather, was sent to America, where he, too, had a great life.

Marisa heads back to Brooklyn and meets with her mother, Addie.

For all of her life, Addie had thought that her grandfather had been a philanderer, however, the news Marisa brought to her rewrote history for the family, and she was able to look at her grandfather in a whole new light.

"It's like a resolution. It all affects us in some mystical way for generations to come," Addie stated.

"This is a real gift. Thank you."


On a personal note, I continue to enjoy these great encounters of family histories uncovered. I am pleased that WDYTYA continues to exhibit some of the places where an individual may search for information about a relative or ancestor. I would like to see more of the process shown to the public, rather than simply miraculously having the info set forth in front of them. It isn't always easy!

I would also like to see WDYTYA do a few shows on regular people, and their search for their ancestors. For any of us who have ever done familial research, there are a ton of brick walls we could offer them to uncover!

Still, all in all, it is a welcome program that I refuse to miss! And it is always touching to me. I have yet to sit through one without tears at least forming, and, more often than not, running down my face.

Thank you NBC for this terrific show!

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