Enrico Caruso (1873 – 1921)
On a concert tour to the United States in 1910, the great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso was approached by members of the Black Hand (as the mafia was then known) who demanded a share of his earnings. On March 6, 1910, the New York Times reported the matter in mocking fashion. Here is a representative excerpt:
With Pistols and Bowie Knife, Golden Voiced Enrico Caruso Defies Black Hand
I found the famous tenor in his pink and white suite at the Knickerbocker hotel scanning an artillery catalog. Two revolvers lay upon his dressing table. His sword cane stood ready for action near-by and his bowie-knife glittered ominously.
“Cowards, curs, canaille,” shouted that golden voice. “They think to scare the great Caruso. Ha! The fools. I laugh at them. See, I snap my finger. I cry, 'ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, so!
“Ah! But I shall spit them upon my sword cane. I will fill them full of bullets from my revolvers. I will rend them with my knife. Dogs they are; they will die if they attempt to separate Caruso from his money.