The Italian Almanac

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Antonio De Curtis aka Toto'

Italian News - December 21

The first songs ever recorded by Italian comic actor Toto' have come to light some 40 years after the legendary Neapolitan artist's death. The recordings are on a rare 78 rpm disc produced by the Columbia record label in 1940 and discovered recently by a Roman music collector.

The songs are both taken from Toto''s third film 'San Giovanni decollato' and feature comic lyrics set to traditional dance tunes. They are called 'Mazurka dei vent'anni' and 'La quadrilla di famiglia'. The discovery upsets the conventional wisdom on Toto's very limited output of musical recordings. Until now it had been thought that he only ever recorded two songs and that he did so in 1942.

Vincenzo Mollica, the RAI television journalist who made this claim in the early 1990s admits he was wrong and is convinced that the latest find contains Toto''s earliest singing exploits on vinyl. "You only have to think that 'San Giovanni decollato' was one of Toto''s earliest films, so this is almost certainly his first recording," he said.

The actor, whose real name was Antonio de Curtis, was born on February 15, 1898, in Naples, the illegitimate son of a minor aristocrat. Although never known much beyond Italy's borders, many film buffs think Toto' should be ranked with the likes of comic geniuses such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.