Mario Lanza (January 31, 1921 – October 7, 1959) was an American tenor, actor, and Hollywood movie star of the late 1940s and the 1950s. The son of Italian immigrants, he began studying to be a professional singer at the age of 16. He was born Alfred Arnold Cocozza. He changed his name to Mario Lanza when he appeared at the Berkshire Music Festival in Tanglewood, Massachusetts, in July–August 1942. His mother's maiden name was Maria Lanza.
After appearing at the Hollywood Bowl in 1947, Lanza signed a seven-year contract with MGM's head, Louis B. Mayer, who saw his performance and was impressed by his singing. Prior to this, the adult Lanza had sung only two performances of an opera. The following year (1948), however, he would sing the role of Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly in New Orleans.
His movie debut was in That Midnight Kiss (1949) with Kathryn Grayson and Ethel Barrymore. The following year, in The Toast of New Orleans, his featured popular song "Be My Love" became his first million-selling hit. In 1951, he played the role of Enrico Caruso (1873–1921), his tenor idol, in the biopic, The Great Caruso, which produced another million-seller with "The Loveliest Night of the Year" (a song which used the melody of Sobre las Olas). The Great Caruso was the top-grossing film that year.