Mario Lanza born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza on January 31, 1921. Lanza a tenor of Italian ancestry, and he was an actor and Hollywood film star of the late 1940's and 50's. He began studying to be a professional singer at the age of 16. He signed a seven-year film contract with Louis B. Mayer, the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Mayer.