The Untouchables - The
police drama THE UNTOUCHABLES/ABC/1959-63 made a point to give a number of their
mobsters Italian surnames during its early episodes. Outraged at this flagrant
insult to the Italian-Americans everywhere, the Italian American League to
Combat Defamation complained to the program's producers and urged them to
curtail this blatant practice of portraying the Italian community in such a
In 1961, union boss "Tough Tony" Anastasia picketed outside the
ABC New York Network headquarters and informed the show's sponsor Liggett &
Myers that his longshoremen would delay the transportation of the company's
products if something wasn't done about the portrayal of Italians on the show.
Soon after, the folks at Liggett & Myers dropped their sponsorship of the
A short time later the executives at ABC sat down with members of the
Italian community and soon the criminal characters of the program were more
evenly represented by thugs and villains from all ethnic persuasions even a
Russian mobster named Joe Vodka.
In addition, the program introduced more
crime-fighting Italian-Americans like Agent Enrico Rossi (Nick Giorgiade) for a
more balanced presentation.
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