NIAF Mourns the Passing of Founder of Conair and Former NIAF Board Member Leandro Rizzuto

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        

Danielle DeSimone
National Italian American Foundation

NIAF Mourns the Passing of Founder of Conair and

Former NIAF Board Member Leandro Rizzuto

(Washington, D.C. – December 5, 2017) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) mourns the passing of Leandro Rizzuto, founder and chief executive officer of Conair Corporation and former NIAF board member.

“On behalf of the National Italian American Foundation Board of Directors, we are deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Rizzuto, who was a longtime leader of the Italian American community, and an innovative and savvy businessman whose products and inventions have changed how people worldwide live their daily lives,” said John M. Viola, NIAF president and chief operating officer. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Rizzuto family.”

The son of Sicilian immigrants, Rizzuto was born and raised in Brooklyn, in New York City, where his family’s humble beginnings included owning a hair salon and inventing hair rollers in the basement. Rizzuto dropped out of St. John’s University to invest his own money in his father’s hair cutting and styling inventions. This business would eventually become Conair Corporation, officially founded in 1959 and known for its iconic hair dryer. Today, Conair earns an annual revenue exceeding $2 billion. The company also owns Cuisinart.

Rizzuto was a staunch supporter of the Italian American community and proud of his Italian roots. He served on the National Italian American Foundation’s Board of Directors in the 1990’s, until his final year in 1999. He also supported the work of The Leandro P. Rizzuto Foundation, which is dedicated to funding neurological disease research.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the Italian American heritage and culture. Based in Washington, D.C., it is the major advocate for nearly 25 million Italian Americans, the nation’s fifth largest ethnic group. To learn more about the Foundation, visit