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 Betty <I>Hicks</I> Lanza

Betty Hicks Lanza

Birth
Gold Hill, Gallatin County, Illinois, USA
Death 11 Mar 1960 (aged 37)
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Culver City, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Mausoleum, Block 46, Crypt D3
Memorial ID 2064 · View Source
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Wife of legendary singer Mario Lanza. Born Elizabeth Jeannette Lyhan in Gold Hill, Illinois, she moved from Chicago to Los Angeles as a young woman. Her brother, Bert Hicks, was the Army buddy of Mario Lanza during their military service together during World War II. Through her brother, she met and fell in love with Mario; when Bert brought Mario to their home in Los Angeles for a home-cooked meal, it was virtually love at first sight. Shortly after Mario's discharge from the Army, they were married on April 13, 1945, in a civil ceremony (and remarried on July 15, 1945, in a Catholic church). Together, they would have four children: Colleen, Ellisa, Damon, and Marc. During this time, she would mostly be a homemaker and mother, while Mario built his Hollywood career. His career would reach a climax with the film "The Great Caruso" (1951), a role that was a perfect fit for his talent. Mario's stardom was short-lived, as he had trouble with alcohol and barbiturates, as well as a ballooning weight problem. In 1954, he was to star in the lead role of Prince Karl in "The Student Prince," but due to creative differences with director Curtis Bernhardt, he was replaced by Edmund Purdom, although the soundtrack uses Lanza's voice. Disillusioned with Hollywood, Mario decided to relocate the family to Italy, where he found work in Italian films. While filming "The Seven Hills of Rome" (1958) and "For the First Time" (1959) in Rome, Italy, he undertook a rigorous diet, using barbiturates to help him lose weight, which contributed to his heart attack and death at age 38, on October 7, 1959. After Mario's death, Betty returned to Los Angeles, bringing the children with her. She would drift through the next few months overwhelmed by grief, and in a haze of alcohol and tranquilizers. About five months after Mario's death she joined him, suffering from a broken heart. Her death was officially ruled an accidental overdose of the medication she was taking for a respiratory ailment, with the cause of death as "asphyxiation" due to the mix of alcohol and tranquilizers. She was 37 years old. Afterward, her children were raised by the paternal grandparents. Of their four children, Colleen became a screenwriter and died in an automobile accident in 1997. Ellisa is married and has two sons; Marc died of a heart attack in 1991, and Damon also died of a heart attack in 2008.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2064
  • Anonymous
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Betty Hicks Lanza (28 Oct 1922–11 Mar 1960), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2064, citing Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .