Maria Perego, Topo Gigio’s Creator, Dies at 95 (PHOTO ON DRIVE)
The mouse puppet that she made in the late 1950s in Italy became a worldwide phenomenon, with the help of “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Maria Perego, an Italian puppeteer and the creator of Topo Gigio, the lovable mouse who became famous to American audiences as a frequent guest on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” died in Milan. She was 95.
Ms. Perego, who worked alongside her husband, Federico Caldura, came up with the 10-inch-tall Topo Gigio in the late 1950s. Topo Gigio was a sort of cross between a puppet and a marionette; three puppeteers, hidden in a black background, moved its body parts with rods.
Maria and two other puppeteers were on hand to impart the movements, while a fourth provided Topo Gigio’s voice. The appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show often ended with the mouse saying, “Eddie, kiss me good night.” The exposure on the Sullivan show helped make Topo Gigio a worldwide phenomenon.
“When I was called to have my puppet perform on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in the now distant 1960s, I could not believe it was happening to me,” Ms. Perego told Italy Magazine in 2013. “It was like a dream. My puppet not only entered Americans’ households, I believe he also entered their hearts.”
Ms. Perego was born on December 8, 1923, in Venice, Italy and later moved to Milan. She had homes there and in France.
According to Topo Gigio’s account, one day in 1959, a recording by the singer Domenico Modugno was played at fast-forward speed and Ms. Perego exclaimed, “This is the voice of a little mouse!” A bit of cutting and sewing brought Topo Gigio into being.
Over the years there have been Topo Gigio books, cartoons, record albums, stage shows and films.
A Memorial Mass for Rosemary Lucarelli, 64, of Livingston, New Jersey, will be celebrated on Saturday, November 23, 2019 at 12:00 noon, in St. Philomena Church, 386 South Livingston Avenue in Livingston. Arrangements are under the direction of Paul Ippolito-Dancy Memorial, 9 Smull Avenue in Caldwell, New Jersey. To send the family condolences please visit ippolitofuneralhomes.com.
Born in Newark, Ms. Lucarelli lived in Bloomfield before moving to Livingston in 2000.
She was employed as an REO manager with Weichert Realtors in Morris Plains, New Jersey, for many years.
Ms. Lucarelli is survived by her loving husband, Michael Trezza; her brother, Louis Lucarelli (Diane); brothers and sisters-in-law, Anthony and Gwen Trezza, Carmine Trezza, Elizabeth and Frank Rossi and Cathy and Richard Gilchrist; many loving nieces and nephews and her beloved “Missy.”
Giustina M. Rossi
Funeral services for Mrs. Giustina M. Rossi (nee Prospero), 80, of Paramus, New Jersey, were held from Marrocco Memorial Chapel, 470 Colfax Avenue, Clifton, New Jersey, followed by a Mass celebrated in the Church of the Annunciation in Paramus.
Giustina was born in Montecchio Maggiore, Vicenza, Italy and came to the United States in 1953, settling in Newark, New Jersey. She resided in Clifton before moving to Paramus since 1967.
She worked at Hoffman La Roche in Nutley for 15 years and was a parishioner of the Church of the Annunciation in Paramus.
Mrs. Rossi was the beloved wife of Felix Rossi; loving mother of Kevin and Glenn Rossi and devoted grandmother of Katrina, Kailyn and Maria. She was predeceased by her siblings, Ivo, Anthony, Luciano, Joseph, Lina, Cecilia, Imelda.
A Funeral Mass for Mrs. Sadie Kosinski, (nee Larusso), of Verona, New Jersey, formerly of Newark, was offered in Immaculate Conception Church, Montclair, following the funeral from Caggiano Memorial, 62 Grove Street, Montclair.
Sadie worked many years as a teller at Valley National Bank in Newark, retiring 16 years ago.
She was a member of the Women’s Club of St. Sebastian, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Verona Senior Citizens.
Sadie is survived by her son, David Kosinsky and his wife, Susan; her daughter-in-law, Debbie and her grandchildren, Brandy, Daniella, Nicholas, Tonianne and Gianna. She was predeceased by her son Paul, and her husband, Thaddeus in 2003.
Robert D. Fierro
Graveside services for Mr. Robert D. Fierro, 81, of Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, were held at Calvary Cemetery in Paterson, New Jersey, following the funeral from the Patrick J. Conte Funeral Home, Inc. 274 Market Street in Elmwood Park, New Jersey.
Born and raised in Paterson, he had been a resident of Wildwood Crest for the past 49 years.
He was a history teacher for the Wildwood Board of Education for 32 years, retiring in 2003.
Mr. Fierro is survived by his nephew, James Di Cerbo.
Grace Asaro Lasalandra, 94
Mrs. Grace Asaro Lasalandra of Boonton, New Jersey, passed away at the age of 94.
Funeral services were held from the Dangler, Lewis and Carey Funeral Home, 312 West Main Street, Boonton, followed by a Mass celebrated in St. Catherine of Siena Church in Mountain Lakes. Letters of condolence may be posted at danglerlewisandcareyfuneralhome.com.
Grace was born in Brooklyn, New York and resided in Morristown, New Jersey, before moving to Boonton in 1944.
Prior to her retirement, Grace was a production worker for Mennen in Morristown.
Grace is survived by her loving children, Anna Rose Kollet, Michele Smartt and Michael A. Lasalandra; her cherished grandchildren, Jeremy, Jason and Nicole and many nieces and nephews. Grace was predeceased by her beloved husband, Michael Lasalandra and her siblings, Jerry, Michael and Rosalie.
John Frunzi, 95
Mr. John Frunzi (Poppa John) of Ocean Gate, New Jersey, passed away at his home. He was 95 years old.
A funeral Mass was celebrated in Holy Family Church in Nutley, New Jersey, following the funeral from the S.W. Brown & Son Funeral Home, 267 Centre St., Nutley.
Born in Belleville, the son of the late Gerard and Josephine (Valvano) Frunzi, he lived in Belleville until moving to Ocean Gate eight years ago.
Prior to his retirement, Mr. Frunzi worked in maintenance for Belleville Board of Education. He previously worked for Essex Lumber in Belleville.
John was a proud Army Air Corps veteran of World War II and was a former member of Knights of Columbus in Belleville and a member of Ocean Gate Senior Citizens.
The beloved husband of the late Angela (Rinaldi) Frunzi, John is survived by his loving children, Gerald Frunzi and his wife, Priscilla and Carol Russo and her husband, Gennaro; his sister, Edyth Bucciarelli; his grandchildren, Michael, Jenna, Johnathan and Jessica and his great-grandchildren, Michael, Nicholas, Evangeline, Liliana, Aiden, Mason, Enzo and Nico. Along with his parents and his wife, John was predeceased by his brother, Joseph Frunzi and two sisters, Rose Ferrara and Lena Monaco.
Anthony G. Quaresimo
Anthony G. Quaresimo of Cedar Knolls, New Jersey, passed away in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He was 81.
A Liturgy of Christian Burial was celebrated in Notre Dame of Mount Carmel R.C. Church in Cedar Knolls, following the funeral from the Par-Troy Funeral Home, 95 Parsippany Road, Parsippany, New Jersey. To send condolences visit www.partroyfuneralhome.com.
Born and raised in Newark, Anthony was a resident in Cedar Knolls for over 55 years.
Anthony was an estimator for Foster Wheeler Energy Corporation in Livingston and Clifton before retiring in 2000.
He was a member of the Cedar Knolls Fire Department, where he joined in 1966 and was made Honorary Chief. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus, Hanover Township Seniors Club, a volunteer at Morristown Medical Center over 20 years and a driver for MICU. He was also a Fire Policeman at the Marshalls Creek Volunteer Fire Company.
Anthony was predeceased by his wife, Antoinette C. (nee Schrama) Quaresimo, who passed away in 2014. He is survived by his son, Joseph A. and his wife, Gladys; his daughters, Mary Jo Glaubman and her husband, Alan, Stephanie Brozyna and her husband, Douglas and Jennifer Robertson and her husband, Alan; his sisters, Marie Specchio and Ann Platt; his ten grandchildren, Danielle Hassinger and her husband, Will, Jessica Maier and her husband, Douglas, Danielle, Samantha Norton and her husband, Joe, Ashley, Heather, Ryan, Joseph Jr., Tyler and Lindsay and his four great-grandchildren, Elizabeth, Brooks, Nora and Cameron.
Josephine Louise Cautillo (nee LoBrace) of Elizabeth, New Jersey, passed away peacefully at the age of 92.
Funeral services were held from the Galante Funeral Home, 2800 Morris Avenue, Union, New Jersey, followed by a Funeral Mass celebrated at Holy Spirit Church in Union.
Born in Elizabeth, Josephine was a lifelong resident.
Always very social, she enjoyed time spent as a member of the Kingston Club in Elizabeth. She also loved playing bingo, solving puzzles and taking trips to Atlantic City. A dear friend to many, Josephine’s love and kindness touched countless lives.
Above all else, Josephine loved her grandchildren and treasured every moment they spent together.
The daughter of the late Bartolomeo and Carmela (nee Sabia) LoBrace, Josephine was the beloved wife of the late Michael A. Cautillo. She was the loving mother of Rosanne Denman and her husband, Tom and Michael Cautillo and his wife, Patricia and adoring grandmother of Brian Cautillo and Thomas Denman. She was predeceased by her sister, Mary Minitelli and her brothers, Frank and Ralph LoBrace. Josephine is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews and great-great-nieces and nephews.
Raymond Testa, 81, of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, passed away peacefully at home, following a long illness.
Funeral services were held from Shook’s Cedar Grove Funeral Home, 486 Pompton Ave., Cedar Grove, followed by a Funeral Mass offered at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Verona, New Jersey. Memories and condolences may be shared at shookscedargrove.com.
Raymond was a graduate of Providence College and Syracuse University, where he earned a Ph.D. in microbiology. He was a research scientist for Schering Plough and Director of Infectious Diseases at Wyeth Laboratories/American Cyanimid. He was instrumental in developing Zosyn, a lifesaving antibiotic used worldwide to combat infections.
He was also awarded three patents in the field of microbiology. He was the recipient of a Hero in Chemistry Award for his work on Tygacil, as well as the UNICO National Marconi Award for Excellence in Science. His dedication to his field was second to none.
Mr. Testa was predeceased by his loving wife, Carmel Ann (nee Leona) Testa; his parents, John and Palma Testa; his brothers, Joseph, John and Frank Testa and his sister, Nancy. He is survived by his loving children, Angela Tobey and her husband, Robert, Robert Testa and his wife, Joan and Matthew Testa and his wife, Melissa and his grandchildren, Robert, Jenna, Nicholas, Andrew, Matthew and Gabriella. He is also survived by his beloved brother, Henry Testa and sisters, Gloria Hollo, Carol Testa, Rosemarie Testa and Barbara DeLoughery and many loving nieces and nephews.
Anna E. West
Anna E. West, 63, a lifelong resident of Summit, New Jersey, passed away peacefully at her home with her loving family at her side.
Funeral services were held from Paul Ippolito Summit Memorial, 7 Summit Avenue, Summit, followed by a Mass celebrated in St. Teresa of Avila Church in Summit. To send condolences visit ippolitofuneralhomes.com.
Anna was the daughter of the late Anna (nee Bianco) and John McGowan.
She was employed at Overlook Hospital until her retirement three years ago.
Anna was devoted to her family and delighted in sharing music and movies, vacationing with them and hosting holidays in her home. She was an avid bowler and more recently had begun to play golf.
Mrs. West is survived by her beloved husband, Scott West and loving daughter, Jenna (Kevin) Carolan. She was the dear sister of Cathy Granata and Thomas McGowan (Lucy). She is also survived by her niece, Tracy Granata; sisters-in-law, Chris West and Christian Carroll and her adored dog, Louie. Anna was predeceased by her beloved son, Ryan Scott West in 2004.
Thomas N. Towne
A Funeral Mass for Thomas N. Towne, 78, a lifelong resident of Verona, New Jersey, was celebrated in Holy Angels Church in Little Falls, following the funeral from Caggiano Memorial, 62 Grove Street, Montclair, New Jersey.
Thomas was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and served in the Vietnam War, where he earned the Purple Heart.
He was a real estate agent at Century 21 – Cedar Crest Realty in Caldwell. Following his retirement, he became a crossing guard in North Caldwell for many years.
Mr. Towne is survived by his wife, Michele (nee Tischio) Towne; his daughters, Leigh Ann Tedesco and her husband, Steven and Michele Kraley and her husband, James; his four grandchildren, Olivia, Luca, Joseph and Madison; his brothers, George Towne and his wife, Mary Jo and Frank Towne and his brother-in-law, Bud Schaub. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, George and Sophie (nee Molfetta) Towne and his sister, Carole Schaub.