Michael Dante Movies and Career Information
Sep 02, 1931
Michael Dante (born September 2, 1931) is an American actor, stage and screen director and former professional athlete. Dante was born Ralph Vitti in Stamford, Connecticut. 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." He chose the last name "Dante"