Submitted by James Pannozzi

This is a photo of James Russo(1880-1949) doing his Russian dance routine, a staple of the vaudeville circuit but a difficult and physically demanding dance. His brother Leo Russo (1892-1957) was a vaudeville pupetteer whom I met once in 1955. It is possible that they both had ancestors in Sicily who were performers but exactly who has not yet been discovered.

Leo Russo (1892-1957).

Born in Hartford, Conn. Leo Russo became a vaudeville performer following in the footsteps of his older brother, vaudeville dancer James Russo (1889-1947). Leo was also the brother of Providenza Russo (1888-1933), my grandmother.

Leo continued to perform his puppet act, entertaining audiences all over the easter seaboard until his death in Philadelphia in 1957. He was a member of the famous Kohnheim studio for dancers and performers. I met him in 1955 and we talked briefly backstage although he had to hurry to complete his show and then catch a train for the next performance which was in New York. He was very friendly and gracious and mentioned that he came from a long line of performers some of whom had performed for the King in Sicily. I never was able to ask him for details about this and he soon had to go.

Leo Russo's brother, James Russo (1889-1949) was a very skilled dancer who achieved fame and numerous accolades for both his solo dance performances and for performances with his wife Mabel Kennett Russo (1890-1987) of Portsmouth, England whoose pictures can be found elsewhere at this web site.

Leo's parents were Carmella Corso Russo (1851-1940) and Salvatore Russo (1857-1929) of Termini-Imerese. Salvatore and Carmella came to America to Kansas City around 1885. They later moved to St. Louis and then to Hartford, Conn. and eventually settled in Providence, Rhode Island. The Russo's of Termini-Imerese were mainly fishermen but there were apparently some performers, possibly royal court performers, too. I'm continuing research in that area now.

This is a photo of Tony Lamantia (1908-1929) who died of Pneumonia at a young age as did his father Cosimo Lamantia (1881-1919). Tony was an accomplished Ukelele player and was planning to move to the west coast and make movies just before he passed away. He was a nephew of dancer James Russo (1880-1949). Tony's mother was Providenza Russo Lamantia(1888-1933) The Russo and Lamantia familes of which Tony was a part all originated from the city of Termini-Imerese, Sicily. However, these Lamantia's spelled their name Mantia in Sicily and came to Termini-Imerese from Palermo during the Napoleonic era

Family Pictures

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Providenza Russo's Notebook

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