August 27, 2020

"Anthony Martignetti, who found television immortality as a 12-year-old Italian immigrant when he sprinted through Boston’s North End..."

"... in an enduring television commercial for Prince spaghetti, playing a boy who is beckoned by his mother’s cry, 'Anthony! Anthony!,' died on Sunday at his home in West Roxbury, Mass. He was 63. His older brother Andy said the cause was still undetermined. He said Mr. Martignetti had been awaiting treatment for severe sleep apnea. In 1969, Anthony and several fellow preadolescents were approached in Boston’s Little Italy by three men looking for Commercial Street. His friends replied rudely; Anthony, angelic and ingenuous, offered directions. The men were smitten. They turned out to be scouts for an advertising agency seeking a realistic location to film a pasta commercial and credible nonprofessionals to act in it.... When the men from the ad agency went to Anthony’s home to explain the particulars to his parents, who spoke little English at the time, his brother Andy volunteered to be the interpreter, a job that conferred some literary license. 'I tried to beat him out of it,' Andy Martignetti said in a phone interview. 'I said I can eat a lot more spaghetti than Anthony. But he was just such a cute little bugger.'"

From "Anthony Martignetti (‘Anthony!’), Who Raced Home for Spaghetti, Dies at 63/He was a 12-year-old Italian immigrant when a classic TV commercial for Prince, the Boston pasta company, gave him a lasting identity" (NYT).

36 comments:

Yancey Ward said...

Must have been a regional ad campaign. I don't recognize the ad or the product.

Temujin said...

Prince spaghetti night. I still say that and my wife has no idea what I'm talking about.

Joe Smith said...

First, commercials were very simple back then...kind of refreshing.

At least they didn't have the really racist Italian accents, 'Thats a spicy meat-a-ball!'

And like someone once said about West Side Story and Maria, how believable is it that an Italian mom is yelling 'Anthony!' in the North End of Boston and only one kid comes running? : )

Rick.T. said...

I love Wednesdays. Prince spaghetti and...HUMP DAY!!!!

tim maguire said...

I can't believe they used his real name.

gerry said...

This ad features white people. Racist stuff. Wow. I had false consciousness about spaghetti before today, but now - praise Marx - I realize it is part of the systemic racist Italian-American food oppression targeted against POC. Wow.

After we destroy white pasta (as opposed to the systemically oppressed pasta of color), we can move on to destroy white wine.

Wince said...

A local icon after kids when learned he was nationally known.

But wasn't the mother was the true star of the ad?

Either way, makes me feel old.

RIP, Anthony!

Openidname said...

I lived in New York's Little Italy, in the 60's. The local parish (Catholic) church was St. Anthony of Padua. A mother yelling out the window, "Hey, An'ony," was a common occurrence. The problem was that roughly 24 boys would come running.

rehajm said...

My nephew moved to Boston last year and we had to teach him Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti day. Thank you YouTube for having the original commercial. The remake/spin-off ones? sacrilege..

raycop said...

that commercial will live in my heart/mind forever. "Anthony,........ Anthony"
Wednesday's were never the same again.

Ice Nine said...

Really? (shrug)

This nobody from a nothing commercial dies and he gets an article in the NYT?! What are they going to do when Mikey dies - two-inch banner headline?

Wince said...

He said Mr. Martignetti had been awaiting treatment for severe sleep apnea.

I wonder if CPAP treatment was delayed by Gov. Charlie Parker's Wuhan virus lock-down?

madAsHell said...

...with wheat-germ energy that those other pastas leave out

"those other pastas" are now preferred as gluten free.

Rory said...

That was me, except we lived on the fourth floor. Between about ages 18 and 30, I was constantly in wonder at how seeming adults around me were clueless as to how spaghetti was to be eaten.

Joe Smith said...

Tuesday is Red's Tamales day : )

Richard Fagin said...

".....brighten Wednesday up with Prince." Radio commercial jingle sticks with you after 50+ years.

Yancey Ward said...

"This nobody from a nothing commercial dies and he gets an article in the NYT?! What are they going to do when Mikey dies - two-inch banner headline?"

Two-inch banner headline, full page headline, or mention on page 36- it won't matter, he hates everything.

Amexpat said...

how believable is it that an Italian mom is yelling 'Anthony!' in the North End of Boston and only one kid comes running?

Parents have distinctive yells.

Amy said...

Interesting backstory to a commercial that was part of the soundtrack of my childhood. RIP.

Floris Pennywise said...

I had forgotten about this commercial until I watched it. There is a scene in the middle where Anthony is running in front of a group of men, and one of the guys looks like he is trying to trip or grab the kid.

When I saw that, I remembered the commercial! I remember thinking when I was a kid "that must be a very tough neighborhood - the adults are trying to trip random kids." Funny the things we remember from childhood.

Eleanor said...

Wednesday will always be Prince Spaghetti Day, and Sunday is Prince Lasagna Day. We got a shelter dog named Anthony wouldn't eat until we gave him permission by saying "Mangia, Anthony!"

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

gerry said...
This ad features white people. Racist stuff. Wow."

White "ethnics" were briefly cool in the '70's, when their colorful ways and foods were contrasted with WASPs (who were all considered to be stuffy, preppy types, although an exception was made for those colorful Southern WASPs, with their drawls and grits.) I think "The Godfather" movies kicked it off - you suddenly saw people wearing "Kiss me, I'm Italian (or Polish or Irish, etc) pins. That's when Milwaukee started adding ethnic festivals like Polish Fest and German Fest and Festa Italia to supplement the local parish festivals, which often had an ethnic flavor to them.

Now, of course, we are all just whites and therefore deplorables and oppressors. And Southern whites stopped being media darlings after the Carter and Clinton eras, when they began voting GOP.

Original Mike said...

Althouse, you posted on this commercial not that long ago (couple of years ago?), but I can't remember what that event was. Maybe the "mother's" death?

William said...

He died at 63. I don't think his death had anything to do with racism or the inequitable distribution of wealth in America. His death was unfortunate and unfair because that's how his cards flopped. Better luck next incarnation......I think all these SJW protests are ultimately a protest against the unfair and inept way the cosmos is run. If the government did everything right, life would still be massively unfair and that's infuriating.

Rana said...

And like someone once said about West Side Story and Maria, how believable is it that an Italian mom is yelling 'Anthony!' in the North End of Boston and only one kid comes running?

That reminds me of the time back in the 80s when my husband and I went to pick up my mother-in-law at the old international terminal at Detroit Metro Airport. The plane from Rome had landed and the terminal was full. Everyone, including us, was looking for their loved ones in the chaos. One intrepid soul decided to stand on a seat and shout "Maria!" I've never laughed so hard as when 100 heads simultaneously turned toward the shouter to see who had called them!

Original Mike said...

Here it is! It was the death of the "mother".

Anthony!

February 5, 2016.

gpm said...

There was a long-time restaurant named Polcari's, now long-gone, on a prominent corner/intersection between the Boston Garden and the North End (there's now a successor restaurant up on Rte. 1 heading north to New Hampshire). It was a big venue for wedding banquets and the like. Don't remember exactly when, but they had a commercial for a long time with Anthony implying that he was eating there almost every day. The punchline was the proprietor saying something like "Hey, Anthony, where were you on Wednesday?" Everybody was in on the joke, which was, of course, the point.

RIP Anthony.

--gpm

Roger This said...

Speaking of medical needs... Should I ever need a heart, I hope I don't get Ice Nine's.

Might get an ass instead.

Mark said...

Authentic, huh?

Is it authentically Italian to serve the bed of pasta plain with the sauce on top, rather than mixing some of the sauce into the pasta first?

Titus said...

The north end is fab. Great restaurants.

Titus said...

There is still a polcaris on route 1.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

He's dead?
Good!
I've waited years for this moment--
I HATED that man! He made my life a living HELL!!!
If you only knew what he put me through.
A human being can only take so much.
etc

Gordon Scott said...

I visited the North End a few years ago. I got my chocolate chip cannoli at the Modern, not that tourist place Mike's. The whole store was full of those berry pastries you see that the Japanese make out of wax, utterly perfect. But they're real.

I got in line before opening at Galleria Umberto. There's always a line. There's about six things on the menu, and they're all good, and inexpensive. The Sicilian pizza pans are just flopped on the counter for quicker packaging. They carefully pack your order in a box, include utensils and napkins, and tie it up with string. I got enough for three meals for under $12.

The North End looks just like The Godfather.

KellyM said...

I so loved this commercial when I was a kid. Prince pasta was sold all over New England and my mom bought it occasionally when her preferred brand wasn't available.

The North End really hadn't changed all that much until the Big Dig. Once the Central Artery was taken down the area became a prime site for redevelopers. Old businesses were priced out and moved, along with the longtime Italian families, up Route 1 to Saugus, Stoneham, and Wakefield. No more feeding the meter or having to walk under the skeevy expressway to the nearest subway station after a late night dinner.

Ice Nine said...

>>Roger This said...
Speaking of medical needs... Should I ever need a heart, I hope I don't get Ice Nine's.
Might get an ass instead.<<

Ass transplants are treatment of choice for butthurt. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Rog.

Known Unknown said...

There's an interesting "Mandela Effect" with this commercial. I had always remembered Wednesday as Prince Spaghetti Night, but in the commercial, the narrator clearly states "Prince Spaghetti Day".