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CELEBRITIES HEADLINE CHICAGO GALA
**Vic Damone, Dennis Farina, and Joe Mantegna to be Honored**


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or elissa@niaf.org


(Washington, D.C.—March 29, 2007) Legendary entertainer Vic Damone and actors Dennis Farina and Joe Mantegna will be honored at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) Ambassador’s Gala. The gala will be held on Thursday evening, April 12, with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and awards ceremony at the Chicago Hilton.

Famed actress Gina Lollobrigida and Academy Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine will receive special recognition from the evening’s host, Italy’s Ambassador to the United States Giovanni Castellaneta. Actor and Chicago-native Larry Manetti will travel with Borgnine to the gala. Joining the celebrities will be Chairman, President, and CEO of Roundy’s Inc. Robert A. Mariano, Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court of Illinois Robert R. Thomas, and Senator of the Italian Republic Renato Turano.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley will give the opening remarks to more than 900 guests. He will be joined by prominent business leaders and community activists including Robert Allegrini, NIAF regional vice president and regional director of communications for Hilton Hotels Corporation; Jerry Colangelo, chairman and CEO of the Phoenix Suns and NIAF vice chairman; and George Randazzo, president and founder of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.

Dozens of Damone’s ballads have made it to the top of the Billboard Chart and have become an integral part of the American music experience. Chicago-born Farina has acted in movies such as “Midnight Run,” “Get Shorty,” and “Saving Private Ryan. He has also starred in NBC’s television series “Law & Order.” Mantegna, NIAF’s celebrity spokesman and a Chicago native, has appeared in movies such as “Uncle Nino” and “State of Emergency,” in addition to CBS series “First Monday” and “Joan of Arcadia.”

Damone will receive a NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award in Music. Farina and Mantegna will receive NIAF Special Achievement Awards in Entertainment. They will be joined by Mariano, who will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Business. Thomas and Turano will receive NIAF Special Achievement Awards in Public Service.

A major sponsor of the gala is the Sicily-USA Partnership Project. During the evening, NIAF will we pay tribute to the region of Sicily, which will be represented by Hon. Antonino Beninati, the region’s minister.

Dinner tickets begin at $200 per person. Attire: Black-tie optional. For information about purchasing tickets, contact Carolyn Laurenzano at 202/939-3114 or carolyn@niaf.org.

NIAF is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. To learn about our programs and events, visit www.niaf.org.





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