The Mario Lanza Museum
A glimpse at the life of America’s opera and movie icon
Since the museum is in Lanza’s boyhood neighborhood, the visitor gets a true neighborhood feel, almost like dropping in on a good friend. The walls are lined with all sorts of Lanza memorabilia. There are schoolboy shots, including a junior high class photo containing future Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, and MGM publicity photos. Some of Lanza’s old movie costumes dot the display cases. Fans have sent in homey memorabilia and letters as well.
Lanza was an original: an opera singer who, for a few years in the late 1940s and early 1950s, crossed over to be a film idol as well. He died at 38 in 1959, just as his pure singing career was starting to burgeon in Europe. The museum evokes that mid-20th-century time when movie icons came and went at the behest of studio chieftains.
The Mario Lanza Museum grew out of the Mario Lanza Institute, which was founded in 1962 to help provide scholarship money for classical vocal students. As more and more Lanza artifacts have been donated, the museum, now in its fourth location, has grown.
Open Mon – Sat
Some of the costumes Lanza wore in his movie roles have been loaned to the museum by his son. In addition, the movie promotional materials bespeak a different era, a half-century past, when studios owned the stars and controlled their working lives.