Welcome to the Pier! AKA “The Jersey Girl Pier” … an homage to my favorite spot on the Hudson’s Jersey side… Pier A in Hoboken..the very corner facing the World Trade Center…a place close to my heart. Each month we will feature a story, guest blogger or interview that encompasses all those “Jersey-Esque” topics and traditions so many love and are entertained by. It’s a Jersey thing as they say…but all are welcome.
February 2017 – Feature Story….by ME (I have to start somewhere right lol?)
Mr. Marlon Brando and the Real Terry Malloy …
Every family has a story. Our family actually has a ship load. Some cargo good…some deemed dangerous… One story in particular that I have always been intrigued by since I was a kid was that my grandfather Tony Mike De Vincenzo was the source of inspiration for one of the greatest films in American cinematic history. Elia Kazan’s “On The Waterfront” released by Columbia Pictures in 1954. After learning about his battle against corruption on the piers, Budd Schulberg the famed Hollywood writer crafted Tony Mike’s bravery into the character that actually WAS a true contender… Terry Malloy. Mr. Kazan and Mr. Schulberg had a great respect for Tony Mike and even reflected on their experience with him in their memoirs. Marlon Brando was encouraged to follow my grandfather and replicate his longshoreman stature, gestures and hardcore toughness eventually weaving his characterization method into his historic Oscar winning performance. My Dad would love to tell stories about the cast and crew and how he would constantly flirt with ingenue’ actress, Eva Marie Saint and a dinner my Grandmother would prepare for Kazan and Schulberg in their home. Crazy.
The real story however, was the bravery of my grandfather. Highlighted in a feature story in Life Magazine a year prior to when production of the film began. In an effort to legitimize the New York and New Jersey ports, Tony Mike testified on behalf of the founding members of the Waterfront Crime Commission to end the corrupt mob virus that plagued the ports. It was an incredibly dangerous and brave task to take on, but he did it and survived several attempts on his life. He was a former boxer and had a true fighting spirit. His first child, my Dad, would go on to be a Hiring Boss for the NJ Ports of Newark and Bayonne despite his diagnosis with Torsion Multiple Dystonia as a child, a neurological disease. The irony in his journey is that the same corruption that Tony Mike stood against would unleash a twisted saga that would eventually plague my own Dad’s life narrative years later, but that’s another story…..a long epic story…stay tuned