Joseph Calleia

Joseph Calleia

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Joseph Calleia

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Description:
Joseph Calleia (August 4, 1897 – October 31, 1975) was a Maltese born American singer, composer, and actor, both on Broadway and in film. Calleia played opposite some Hollywood greats, including John Wayne, William Holden, Errol Flynn, Rita Hayworth, Mae West, Bette Davis, Jane Russell, Mario Lanza, Charlton Heston, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Orson Welles, Tyrone Power, Alan Ladd and Anthony Quinn.

Early years

Born at Saqqajja Square, Rabat, Malta, to Pasquale and Elena Calleja, he was educated at St Julian's and St Aloysius colleges in Malta. He organised an harmonica band of boys which earned him sufficient money so that he left Malta in 1914, aged 17, and began his career touring Europe as a teenage singer with a harmonica band, appearing in the cafés and music halls of many war-torn and weary capital cities. He later went to New York as a singer and then turned to drama.

Broadway

Although Calleia made over 50 films, he always claimed to enjoy stage performance to film acting. He was considered a "bright light" on Broadway between 1926 and 1945, and appeared in several hit plays, including:
  • Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre, September 16, 1926 to February 11, 1928, as "Joe, a waiter"
  • The Front Page at Times Square Theatre, August 14, 1928 to April 1929, as "Kruger (Journal of Commerce)"
  • The Last Mile at Sam H. Harris Theatre, February 13, 1930 to circa October 1930, as "Tom......
  • ...

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