Fictional Italians: Ten Hall of Fame Entries

Marc Edward DiPaolo (February 23, 2008)
Here they are! My favorite Italian and Italian-American Fictional Characters. This Hall of Fame will have 10 new inductees each year. Like the Oscars, these inductees are for the previous year - 2007.

The Honor Roll:

1 and 2. Rocky and Adrienne Balboa:

One of the coolest screen couples ever. They teach us to

fight for love, for our dreams, and for self-respect. It is great to watch their love story unfold over the course of the six Rocky films. Each and every Rocky movie is good, on some level, and the first film is one of the best ever made.


3. Cabiria

Giulietta Masina's character from
Nights of Cabiria is a sweet, feisty, marvelous character. One of the best performances in film.



4. Columbo

The hero of the working classes, taking down the evil, upper-

crust snobs who underestimate him because he's a frumpy,

cigar-chomping immigrant. Brilliant. Inspired.


5. The Huntress (Helena Bertinelli)

An obscure but cool super heroine

who fights the Mafia and is part of

the great comic book Birds of Prey

by Gail Simone.


6. Iron Man (Anthony Cerrere Stark)

When he's good, he's great, as in the Marvel Masterworks and Ultimate Iron Man by Orson Scott Card. When he's a(n) anti-hero/villain, as in the various Civil War books by writers such as Mark Millar and J. Michael Straczynski, he's really formidable. He's also got a new cartoon movie out, The Invincible Iron Man, which is very good. It is a little slow, a little solemn, but Tony is great in it, and the film itself has a lot of excellent moments.


7. Michael Garibaldi from
Babylon 5.

Created by J. Michael Straczynski and played by Jerry Doyle (okay, he's an Irish-American actor, okay...), this was the first major Italian character in space after the supposedly multi-ethnic Star Trek franchise went three series without a single notable Italian character who wasn't some one-off red shirt. A funny, tenacious crimse-solver, he loves prosciutto, Looney Tunes, and he hates unsolved mysteries ... they give him gas.


8. The Flying Zucchi Brothers.

Appeared in a couple of episodes of The Muppet Show. A human canon circus act. Much cooler than the other Italian Muppet ... Rizzo the ... Rat? RAT!!!!


9. John Abruzzi from Prison Break.

While I'm not a fan of the pervasive portrayal of Italians as gangsters, I can't argue with this compelling villainous character, played by "The Blonde Guy From Fargo," Peter Stormare. Classic cliffhanger television featuring a classic comic-book-style villain. Wicked!

10. Super Mario

(honorary mention: Luigi).

Not just Nintendo Entertainment's corporate logo, Mario is a fun, 2-D computer buddy from my childhood. I spent many a long hour playing Super Mario Bros., Mario 2, and Super Mario World in junior high school and college. He made me feel good to be Italian as I stomped flat evil mushrooms, kicked turtles into bon-bon men, shot fireballs at dragon-men, and leaped over cloud-like Flurries. Cute stuff. Not offended at all... Never saw the movie Super Mario Brothers, though. Let me know how it is...


Honorable Mention: Sebastian de Rosa from Alien Versus Predator.

(Played by Raoul Bova) An Italian archaeologist? Who can read runic symbols and act as a sort of "Van Helsing" wise-man, exposition character in a horror movie! That's the greatest news I've heard in a while. For once, an Italian with a brain in his skull. Look at him in this picture, translating ancient languages! And he's handsome and funny. Thank God. So, Michael Garibaldi laid some great groundwork for Italian characters in sci fi. And thank you, Shane Salerno, for creating such a cool character. (It had to be you, my friend.)

Some trivia courtesy of The Internet Movie Database: When Lex asks Sebastian how to say "scared shitless" in Italian, he replies "Non vedo l'ora di uscire da questa piramide con te, perché mi sto cagando addosso." Translated, this literally means "I can't wait to get out of this pyramid with you, because I'm shitting myself."





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