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Chapter IV:

Topo Gigio was a success, but there is no real work for him in Italy, so he goes on to work in foreign countries, where he finds much success, so he lands in the exciting world of American show business, precisely on the “Ed Sullivan Show”.

The success was enormous that the live audience’s applauses lasted in ovation for minutes. But RAI did not assign a series to Topo Gigio, so Maria brought me to work with Franco Mazzari, head of the Swiss Television, and in Germany with Bavaria Film in Munich. There I spoke in a deep but youthful German voice, lent to me by the actor Arthur Schnabel, a great theater and film actor that fell in love with the cute mouse with its fast and unusual moves. Arthur even postponed a production in the United States to return to Munich to give me his voice.

So it began our transient life. In the down times we had in Italy, with no work available on RAI we started doing a series of commercials (Caroselli) for the Montecatini Company that had some success. But at last RAI got upset with the Peregos at it thought to have some rights in my character, Topo Gigio, and closed all doors on us. But later the RAI management, softened up, as the great and just Enzo Biagi came to our aid, I think in that period he was on the board of RAI or one of the heads of Montecatini.

Indeed Enzo Biagi read the contract and verified that there was no stipulation where the Peregos had granted any rights to the patent, no money had been paid for this right, no money had been allocated for the research of the material or work for hire on behalf of RAI had been established in the manufacturing of this puppet. Therefore he ascertained that the contracts were simply for the engagements of performances in the shows, just like any other artist. So Enzo took our side and convinced RAI that it had no rights in my property.

But I found myself again in a suitcase and on planes. I started speaking Dutch, with the voice of Fred Butter and finally in Spanish with the voice of Peppino Mazzullo and in turn even in English.

Maria hired an English teacher that shadowed Peppino day and night, so to teach him English, and not to replace him, as we had to in Germany and Netherlands.

So all ready, we left for London and there at the “Night At The Palladium Show” we hit the big times, so much so that news of our success landed on America’s most important show “Ed Sullivan”, who immediately engaged us.

We all left for New York, a bit scared, really understanding how our Italian immigrants must have felt. For this huge event my whole family accompanied me, even if they had no idea even how to draw a set, but having them along gave me courage and so with them nearby, I felt ready to enter the temple of show business that was the CBS Theater on 54th Street. There for two days we did takes and rehearsals (I had to dialogue with Ed Sullivan, that to tell the truth, would forget the punch lines) but Maria as we did re-takes would put me on Ed’s arm, climbing to his cheek give him a kiss and apologize.

A real injustice to me: it was not me that forgot the lines, but it was him! After a while, seeing Ed’s tenderness, he would return my kiss and would speak with Maria with affection, I was convinced that Maria was right. It all worked, so finally we would be accepted in the temple of show biz. It was really a success in the USA and, from then on, we constantly threaded between New York, London, Madrid and Milan like spinning tops.

We went on “Ed Sullivan’s Show” 94 times, naturally over the years, a huge number of appearances. My picture with Ed prominently featured in the main hall of CBS, the great American network. I was pampered by the most prominent artists of the world of cinema and music. The great Louis Armstrong thought me how to sing, and Michael Jackson, who was just a child then, thought how to dance.

We would kill time during the long rehearsal and waiting time between acts, but I took that opportunity to learn and had some of exceptional maestros. As you can agree, only the world’s top talent would be on “Ed Sullivan”’s, these icons would kiss me and pamper me. I was kissed by the most beautiful women of the world. And so I got a big head, and I started complaining about putting on tight uncomfortable clothes. Would protest when they would try putting them on me. Maria understood, as she would smile and would let me put loser ones on. I also hated the longer nightgown that they put on me to go to sleep, but on this Maria would not hear any of my excuses. I juts knew that sooner or later I would get my way on the nightgown thing.

Chapter V - Topo Gigio wants to grow up >>