A list of Italian Americans in the news is highlighted in each issue of Italian America® magazine, the official publication of the Sons of Italy®. The list below reflects Newsmakers from the current issue. Newsmakers from past issues are also available for viewing.
TONY BENNETT and LADY GAGA (née Stefani Germanotta) won Grammys for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album in February. Their collaborative album, Cheek to Cheek, introduces younger generations to classic jazz standards. This award marks the 18th Grammy for Bennett and 7th for Lady Gaga.
CRAIG BIGGIO and JOHN SMOLTZ became the 11th and 12th Italian Americans elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. in January. Biggio played his entire career for the Houston Astros, amassing 3,060 hits over 20 big league seasons. Smoltz, whose mother is Italian American, spent 19 of his 21 seasons pitching with the Atlanta Braves. He is the only pitcher in Major League history to record more than 200 wins and 150 saves.
LOU GRILLO is the founder of the world’s largest no-kill, care-for-life sanctuary for rescued animals. His non-profit D.E.L.T.A. Rescue is a 115-acre mountaintop ranch in Acton, CA that houses more than 1,500 cats and dogs. See www.deltarescue.org.
JOEY LOGANO became the second youngest driver ever to win NASCAR’s Daytona 500. The 24-year-old’s surprise victory in February came only two years after being dropped from his original racing team. He now races for Roger Penske’s legendary Penske Racing team.
LISA MONACO is the new U.S. Homeland Security advisor and chief counterterrorism advisor to President Barack Obama. A Harvard graduate, Monaco provides the president with a daily threat assessment and recently announced that the administration plans to open a cyber threat office.
TONY VERNA, who invented instant replay that was first used during the 1963 Army-Navy game, died in January at age 81. He produced and directed Pope John Paul II’s “A Prayer for Peace” (1986), which had more than a billion viewers.
MIKE VOTTO, CEO of Votto Vines, saw his firm named one of Forbes Most Promising Companies in America for 2015. Votto Vines collaborates with the Sons of Italy’s for-profit arm to produce Il Leone D’Oro wines. See www.vottovines.com.
Compiled by Miles Ryan Fisher