John Tenuto from Gurnee, IL


Aside from watch TCM, what do you do?

I am a sociology professor who enjoys Hollywood memorabilia shows, Star Trek and Star Wars conventions, and collecting autographs. I share these hobbies with my wife of 20 years Maria Jose who is a fellow sociology professor and our 16 year-old son Nicky.


What’s your favorite movie snack?

Three Musketeers bars!


What’s your favorite part of TCM?

The introductions and wrap ups by Ben Mankiewicz, like those of the wonderful Robert Osborne, are my favorites because they provide context for the film and get my family excited to watch for the trivia or themes discussed.


What’s your favorite movie genre?

Science fiction.


Who’s your favorite actor or actress or filmmaker of all time? And why?

Nicholas Meyer is my favorite filmmaker. His films show how art could thrive despite filmmakers facing limitations of budget, time, and technology. 

Ricardo Montalban is my favorite actor. He could do anything -- dance, comedy, drama, action, and even make exposition exciting! His work behind the scenes to limit stereotypes of Latino and Latina in Hollywood and television -- both through his own life of compassion and excellence, and through his arts group Nosotros -- continue to affect the world a half decade after his passing. I re-read his 1980 autobiography once a year and share it with my students. 


Who would you be thrilled to meet, and what would you say?

I would want to meet my grand uncle Joseph Bullaro, my grandmother's brother. He was known as the "MGM Barber to the Stars" during the 1940s through the 1960s. Uncle Joe received death threats from fans for cutting Elvis' hair for Jailhouse Rock, according to newspaper clippings we have. I have pictures of him cutting the hair of Bob Hope and Mickey Rooney and he had roles in some movies like Joy in the Morning as a barber. I asked Mickey Rooney when I met him some years ago if he remembered my uncle Joe, and he said that everyone at MGM remembered him. He was friends with many actors like Mario Lanza and Robert Taylor and I could imagine what great stories he would be able to share about Hollywood during the 1940s to the 1960s. Mario Lanza reportedly said of uncle Joe's haircuts that: "It would not have been as bad had it not been for Joe's singing." Uncle Joe would cut MGM actors hair in his own home occasionally as a favor, playing cards with them after. He passed away when I was too young to appreciate his amazing life.


What do you collect?

I collect autographs, movie memorabilia, Coca Cola vintage items, and Christmas ornaments.


If you had to pick just one, what would be your favorite movie?

My favorite modern film would have to be Star Wars because it redefined cinema and inspired my 1977-era 8 year-old imagination. 

My favorite classic film is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The narrative about a regular person who makes a difference is a quintessential and universal hope -- we all can be Jefferson Smith.


Thank you John!  For being in our Member Spotlight, we're sending you Must-See Sci-Fi, TCM's stellar book about science-fiction films, from 1902 to today.  Pardon the pun, but it's a blast.

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