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A Prince in America

295 pages5 hours


A Prince in America

Descended from two viceroys of Sicily, Prince Alessandro Tasca di Cutò, cousin of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of The Leopard, was born in 1906 into one of Sicily’s most illustrious princely families. The early years of Alessandro’s life saw fabulous baroque palaces and perpetual grand tours of Europe with servants in tow. However, his father, a womanizing Socialist politician known as ‘The Red Prince’, steadily devoured the family’s considerable fortune to realize his ideals.
Alessandro emigrated to New York and worked as a car mechanic, a bootlegger’s driver, a cashier for the Saratoga racetrack and a runner on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the Wall Street crash of 1929.
After the outbreak of WW2, Alessandro returned to Rome and was assigned to the Ministry of Propaganda where he met Ezra Pound. Alessandro was later interned in an English-run POW camp in Padula in Southern Italy.
After the war Tasca, thanks to his language ability and ‘fix-it’ skills, was hired to work in the film industry to ease Anglo-American productions through the horrors of Italian bureaucracy. In 1946 he met Orson Welles who was to become a lifelong friend. Over the next forty years he worked on several of Welles’ films both in Europe and later on in America. Alessandro returned to the United States in the 1970s working in Hollywood well into the 1980s. Tasca worked with some of the great names of international cinema over his long career: John Huston, Joe Losey, De Sica, Pasolini, Antonioni, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, Gina Lollobrigida, and many others.
Tasca’s singular adaptability was observed by the distinguished Italian writer, Luigi Barzini of The Italians fame, who dubbed Tasca the ‘bourgeois’ prince in an essay on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
Tasca’s irreverent humour and remarkable ability to thrive anywhere results in a highly entertaining personal and social memoir that evokes the captivatingly varied worlds and characters of Belle Époque Europe, the 1929 Wall Street crash, World War Two Rome and of course the movie business and some its most illustrious icons.

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