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Issue Date: March 2005 Issue


Italian Seasoning


Jim Vickers
vickers@clevelandmagazine.com

Nick Mileti brought the NBA to Cleveland, saved the Tribe from a rumored move and put up millions to build Richfield Coliseum. More than 30 years later, the former local sports magnate is adding "author" to his accomplishments.

Mileti recently sent us a copy of a curious book he penned: "Closet Italians: A dazzling collection of illustrious Italians with non-Italian names." The idea was born from an explosive dinner conversation at an event honoring an ex-ambassador to France. When Mileti casually mentioned to his tablemates that French statesman Jules Mazarin had been Italian and modified his last name to hide the fact, his new friends turned a lot less friendly.

"These people at this party really got mad at me," Mileti recalls. "Like it's my fault their French icon is Italian."

"Closet Italians" searches the past 2,000 years for people you'd never expect had Italian roots and explains their ties to the homeland. Take a look at the list below and see if you can guess which of these pop-culture personalities are among the nearly 200 Italians Mileti "outs" in his book.

For more information, visit www.closetitalians.com.

Italian or Not?

1. TV host Regis Philbin

2. Author Stephen King

3. "Friends" and "Joey" star Matt LeBlanc

4. Big-time wrestler Hulk Hogan

5. Film star Ashley Judd

6. Filmmaker Michael Moore

7. "The Sopranos" creator David Chase

8. Singer Mariah Carey

9. Film star Vin Diesel

10. Musician Bruce Springsteen

font size=1>Answers: 1. yes; 2. no; 3. yes; 4. yes; 5. yes; 6. no; 7. yes; 8. no; 9. yes; 10. yes


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