Documentary Explores History of Italian Americans | CET Connect

Documentary Explores History of Italian Americans

Posted by Kellie May on

Discover the history of how one immigrant group went from the being considered suspicious outsiders to producing some of the most prominent leaders of business, politics and the arts in The Italian Americans. Written and produced by John Maggio and narrated by Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci, this two-part, four-hour documentary seeks to reveal the history of the Italian experience in America. The Italian Americans will premiere on CET and ThinkTV16 on Tuesdays, Feb.17 & 24, 2015, from 9-11pm.

In The Italian Americans, viewers travel back through time to see the history of how the perceptions and stereotypes changed through the course of time. From landmark points such as the culture clashes the first immigrants faced to the suspicions and accusations of criminal connections that would plague Italian Americans as they entered positions of influence throughout the country, this documentary reveals an age long story of trials and tribulations. Featuring extensive research and the personal experiences of notable Italian Americans such as Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Tony Bennett, Dion DiMucci, David Chase, Gay Talese and John Turturro - The Italian Americans tells the story of those who played vital roles in bridging this cultural gap.

Here’s a quick rundown of the upcoming episodes:


La Famiglia (1890-1910)

Feb. 17 at 9pm on ThinkTV16 and CET

This episode provides a brief history of the 19th century Italian migration, as the first immigrants began to settle in “Little Italys” throughout the U.S. Holding on to their language and culture, these pioneer immigrants would face massive mistrust from non-Italians, with rising tensions eventually culminating in violent tragedy. Meanwhile, a second generation Italian American saves his community from disaster while creating one of the greatest financial institutions in the country.

Becoming Americans (1910-1930)

Feb. 17 at 10pm on ThinkTV16 and CET

In this episode, the turn of the 20th century brings over four million Italian immigrants to America. Featured in this hour are names such as Leonard Covello, who is forced to give up his “old world ways”, Arturo Giovannitti, who would lead the largest labor strike of 1912, and the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, whose executions would reinforce stereotypes that plague Italian Americans to this day. Meanwhile, in response to the invention of Prohibition emerges a new kind of criminal who takes a shortcut to success.


Loyal Americans (1930-1945)

Feb.24 at 9pm on ThinkTV16 and CET

From Fiorello LaGuardia’s becoming mayor of New York City to the rise of baseball powerhouse Joe DiMaggio, this episode follows the second generation of Italian Americans as they began to enter the labor movement, politics, sports and entertainment. However, with the outbreak of World War II come questions of loyalty and an outbreak of suspicion for Italian Americans all over the country. Forced to choose between two warring nations, the war proves to be a major turning point for Italian Americans in the U.S.

The American Dream (1945-present)

 Feb.24 at 10pm on ThinkTV16 and CET

In post-war America, Italian Americans enter the middle class alongside a new world of success. Italian-American crooners define American cool, but as Frank Sinatra is targeted by accusations of Mafia ties, the question of whether Italian Americans will ever shed the specter of organized crime begins to emerge. Meanwhile, the documentary focuses on individuals such as the late New York governor Mario Cuomo, the first Italian American Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the first Italian American Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, begging the question of if Italian Americans have finally moved past stereotypes of old to become fully accepted in America.