North End-born, Prince Pasta, launched a remake of its famous “Anthony! Anthony!” Prince Spaghetti television commercial this week bringing a new young actor to the role, Thomas Lee DeSimone. The new “Anthony” is 9 years old and the grandnephew of longtime North End residents, Patricia and Armand “Tip” Thiboutot.
Thomas currently lives in Hamilton, Mass. and is the grandson of John J. DeSimone, born in 1926 as one of nine children of immigrant parents from Gaeta, Italy. Thomas’ grandfather worked for the BRA as an urban planner in the 1960′s and was instrumental in various legacy projects of the times. “My father’s heritage and his deep connection to Boston makes it very sweet that my son was able to be part of this culturally iconic brand,” adds John DeSimone, father of the young actor. “The North End was a frequent destination where you got the best pastries and Regina’s was always a special treat,” he says. Thomas is a basketball and soccer player with a twin sister, Michaela Grace. Both are advanced piano players as well as motorcycle riders.
The remake of the iconic TV commercial is coincident with the 100th Anniversary celebration of Prince Pasta, started by Sicilian immigrants in 1912 (ok, so it’s 101 years, but who’s counting?) as Prince Macaroni Company on 92 Prince Street in Boston’s North End. The company added a pasta factory shortly thereafter in 1917 on Commercial Street, still known today as the Prince Building. The surviving New World Pasta company is currently headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The original Prince Spaghetti commercial first aired in 1969 staring 12-year old Anthony Martignetti and Mary Fiumara as the mother yelling out the window … “Anthony! Anthony!” Both Anthony and Mary were from the North End at the time. The apartment building that Anthony was running home to was located on Powers Court in Boston’s North End.
In the new TV spot, young Anthony is shown in black and white running through today’s North End in full color. Recognizable locations include the Prado with Paul Revere’s statue, Hanover Street and Regina Pizzeria. Anthony is shown racing up Margaret Street toward his “home” on Sheafe Street. At the end of the commercial, the out-of-breath young boy entering the family’s apartment has been replaced by an adult actor portraying a grown-up version of Anthony in a modern family.
A kick-off of the 100th Anniversary celebration was held on Wednesday (Prince Spaghetti Day, of course) with Mayor Thomas M. Menino and North End natives, Christine and Carla Pallotta, of NEBO Restaurant. Art students also created pasta sculptures to resemble Boston landmarks. A special food truck will be making the rounds every Wednesday during the month-long celebration and the company has posted 100th Anniversary recipes on its website. The remade commercial was by The Collective @ Lair produced by Nicole Rodan and directed by Thor Raxlen and John Budion. The ad agency was Millenium Communications in Association with Armory NY.
The original 1969 “Anthony!” commercial, shown below, ran for 13 years making it the longest running TV ad. It also brought Boston’s North End into homes across the nation. The commercial still hits a chord because it marks a time gone by when mother’s could yell out the window to find their kids. The ad spot has been used as a reference point for the beginnings of the generational shift in the neighborhood. Some believe the commercial’s huge national exposure may have made the North End more attractive to outsiders that ultimately led to gentrification.
Here is the original 1969 version: