By Jim Botticelli/Dirty Old Boston
He's 61 years old now. His roots lie deep in the North End and in the hearts of DOB types everywhere. In 2013, "Anthony" was born again as film crews and producers came to Margaret Street, Sheafe Street, and Cleveland Place to remake the locally famous Prince Spaghetti commercial. This time the commercial film company brought their own actors. But that wasn't how it went down the first time around. The new shoot never became the stuff of legend.
Scene from the 2013 re-shoot. Courtesy North End Waterfront News
In 1966 when Anthony Martignetti, 9, his family immigrated to the US from Italy, coming directly to the North End and settling in. Three years went by. In 1969, when he was 12, Anthony was hanging out with some pals when they were approached by a couple of obvious outsiders. North Enders are quick to spot 'em. Trying to locate Commercial Street, these interlopers were escorted by Anthony to their destination. Unbeknownst to those boys, these men were working for Boston's Jerome O'Leary Advertising Agency, which represented the Prince Macaroni Company as it was known at the time. Their mission; shoot an ad for their product on Boston's Italian turf. When the time came to cast, they remembered Anthony.
They found him and made him an offer he could not refuse. Anthony sprinted home to announce his impending stardom to his mother. She immediately assumed her little boy would be seen on the nightly news for God knows what. Contracts were signed. Anthony Martignetti cleared close to 25 large just for racing through the North End streets to Powers Court, a feat his feet performed almost daily. He didn't actually run to his mother. Instead he ran to the woman who played her on TV, fellow North Ender Mary Fiumara (below) who died at 88 in 2016.
After graduating high school, Anthony worked at Polaroid before joining the family grocery business. When his parents retired in 1987 he got a job at Stop & Shop Distribution. Although the company extols the virtues of diversity, Martignetti's supervisor would call him "spaghetti bender", "meatball", and a few more choice ones Italian Americans have had to swallow. After complaining of discrimination to corporate with no success, he sued Stop & Shop and a settlement was reached in 2004. Today Anthony Martignetti works as a Court Officer in Dedham District and is married with a son, Anthony Jr. Prince Spaghetti is on the family menu several times a week.
North End Fact: It's not well known to the outside world, but Prince's advertising blitz was brilliant. They made Wednesday a focus for cultural reasons. Native North Ender and Boston nightclub owner, host and manager Jerry Maffeo explains why:
"North Enders always ate pasta Tuesdays and Thursdays, never Wednesdays," he laughed. "The only ones that ate spaghetti on Wednesday nights were the Irish!"
Jerry Maffeo, former boxer and nightclub owner