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Immigrants Of The Day: Mack Sennett of Canada, Isabella Rossellini of Italy, and John Shalikashvili of Poland

by Kevin R. Johnson

Mack Sennett (Canada)

Mack_sennett Mack Sennett (1880-1960) was an innovator of slapstick comedy in film. During his lifetime he was known as the "King of Comedy."

Born Michael Sinnott in the province of Quebec, Canada, Sennett was a son of Irish Catholic immigrant farmers. At age 17, his family moved to Connecticut. The family lived for a time in Massachusetts, where, according to his autobiography, Sennett first got the idea to go on stage after seeing a vaudeville show.

In New York City, Sennett became a singer, dancer, clown, actor set designer and director for Biograph. In 1912, Sennett founded Keystone Studios in Edendale, California, (which is now a part of Echo Park). Many important actors started their careers with Sennett, including Mabel Normand. Charlie Chaplin, Raymond Griffith, Gloria Swanson, Ford Sterling, Andy Clyde, The Keystone Kops, Bing Crosby, and W. C. Fields.

Sennett's slapstick comedies were noted for their wild car chases and custard pie warfare. His films featured a bevy of girls known as the Sennett Bathing Beauties. Sennett also developed the Kid Comedies, a forerunner of the Our Gang films and in a short time his name became synonymous with screen comedy. In 1915 Keystone Studios became an autonomous production unit of the ambitious Triangle Pictures Corporation, as Sennett joined forces with D. W. Griffith and Thomas Ince.

In 1917, Sennett gave up the Keystone trademark and organized his own company, Mack Sennett Comedies Corporation. Sennett went on to produce more ambitious comedy short films and a few feature-length films. During the 1920s his short subjects were in much demand.

Today the name of Mack Sennett is still highly recognizable and the term "Keystone Cops" has become part of the American lexicon, describing incompetent buffoons with supposed authority.

January 23, 2008 | Permalink

Isabella Rossellini (Italy)

220pxisabella_rossellini__at_the_20 Isabella Rossellini (born June 18, 1952) is an actress, filmmaker, author, philanthropist, and model. Rossellini is noted for her brief career as a Lancôme model, and for her roles in films such as Blue Velvet and Death Becomes Her.

Rossellini is the daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and the Italian director Roberto Rossellini.  She was born in Rome, Italy. At the age of 19, she came to New York, where she worked as a translator and a television reporter.

Rossellini did not decide to stay full time in New York until her marriage to Martin Scorsese (1979–1982). At age 28, her modeling career began, when she was photographed for British Vogue and American Vogue. During her career, she has also worked with many renowned photographers, including Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Her image has appeared on such magazines as Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and ELLE.

Rossellini's modeling career led her into the world of cosmetics, when she became the exclusive spokesmodel for the international cosmetics brand Lancôme in 1982.

Rossellini made her film debut with a brief appearance as a nun opposite her mother in the 1976 film A Matter of Time. However, she did not truly begin acting until the 1979 film Il Prato. She was cast in her first American film, White Nights (1985). Rossellini is probably best known for her pivotal role as the nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Some other notable film roles include her work in Cousins, Death Becomes Her, Immortal Beloved, and Fearless. In 2003, Rossellini had a recurring role on the television series, Alias.

Rossellini received a 1987 Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her role in Blue Velvet. In 1997, she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for her role in Crime of the Century and an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work on the television series Chicago Hope. In 1997, her self-described fictional memoir, Some of Me, was published. In 2002, she released her second 51ssj1ggk0l__aa240_ book, Looking at Me (on pictures and photographers). In 2006, In the name of the Father, the Daughter and the Holy Spirits: Remembering Roberto Rossellini was published.

Isabella Rossellini holds dual United States and Italian citizenship.

January 24, 2008 | Permalink

John Shalikashvili (Poland)

250pxgeneral_john_shalikashvili_mil John Shalikashvili (born June 27, 1936) is a retired general of the United States Army who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997. He was born in Warsaw, Poland to Georgian parents. Both of his parents fled to Poland after the occupation of Georgia by Russian SFSR in 1921.

General Shalikashvili became the only immigrant in United States history to become a general of the United States Army and rose in rank through every unit command from battalion to division.

In 1952, when John was 16, the family immigrated to Peoria, Illinois. Their sponsors and the Episcopal Church helped the Shalikashvili family get started, finding jobs and a home for them.

In May 1958, Shalikashvili and his family were sworn in as American citizens. It was the first citizenship he ever held. He had previously been a refugee who had only been classified as "stateless", since he had been born to parents who had been refugees.

January 25, 2008 | Permalink

These posts were orginally posted on the ImmigrationProf Blog here, here and here.

About The Author

Kevin R. Johnson is currently Dean, Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies, and the Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair holder at the University of California at Davis. He is also one of the editors of ImmigrationProf Blog .

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.