Michael Dante

Michael Dante (born Ralph Vitti; September 2, 1931 in Stamford, Connecticut) is an American award winning actor of television, films and stage and a former professional minor league baseball player. As a boy growing up on the West Side neighborhood of the city, he used to sneak into a local movie theater with his friends and watch westerns. "I grew up wanting to be the sidekick of the Lone Ranger and wanting to follow my heroes," he told a reporter in 2006. He was a shortstop on the Stamford High School baseball team, then played for "The Advocate All-Stars" team which won a 1949 New England baseball championship. He signed a bonus contract with the Boston Braves out of high school. His $6,000 bonus went to buy his family a four-door Buick with whitewalls. During spring training with the Senators he had taken drama classes at the University of Miami in Florida. Bandleader Tommy Dorsey arranged a screen test at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer soon after. His first movie was Somebody Up There Likes Me in 1956. He changed his name at the urging of Jack Warner, who thought "Vitti" wouldn't look good on movie marquees. Warner suggested some first names, from which the actor picked "Michael.


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