Many thanks to Larry Cetrulo of Cetrulo & Capone LLP,and to Bob Hine of Boston Digital Editing for making this video and granting us permission to show it in the Museum of American Fencing
Dean Cetrulo, who qualified first for the US Olympic team in 1948 in both saber and foil. This legendary Hall of Famer was a Hollywood stunt man for a few years and fenced in Cyrano deBergerac with Jose Ferrer’
New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame inductee Dean Cetrulo (left) and former Yankee Rick Cerone, representing the 1937 Newark Bears, talk over old times last night in Pegasus Restaurant at Meadowlands Racetrack. Cetrulo was a fencing great who worked with Cerone when he fenced for Essex Catholic High School.
Cetrulo: Fencing Needs a Sharper Image
An article from the Star-Ledger
As much as Dean Cetrulo admires the aristocratic traditions of fencing, he’s the first one to admit that the sport needs a new image.
With the 1998 Olympic Games beginning in 63 days, sports such as track and field, gymnastics and boxing will get the marquee television billing. Fencing will be lucky to make the late-night highlight reel.
If the 77-year-old Newark native had his way, however, fencing would be among the elite events. All the sport has to do is, he believes, is add some NBA flair by ditching the traditional white garb in favor of some MTV fashion.
“First of all, all this white stuff, forget it,” he says. “I used to say, ‘why don’t they let me dress like a bull fighter?’ I wanted to have a red stripe on my uniform but they wouldn’t allow it because you couldn’t see the touches. I hear now they’re going to do that, maybe not in Atlanta, but maybe the next one they will. They want to test it around the country.”
Last night Cetrulo was inducted into the New Jersey Hall Of Fame along with the Golden State Warriors vice president/consultant Al Attles, former Rutgers and Kansas city chiefs free safety Deron Cherry, Devils chairmen John McMullen, Green Bay Packers great Jim Ringo, former world middleweight champion Marvin Hagler, legendary third basemen Ray Dandridge, the 1937 Newark Bears baseball team and the 1995 Stanely Cup championship Devils.
“This is a great thrill for me because it’s going to give something to fencing,” said Cetrulo.
Some might say Cetrulo and his family have given more to than their share to popularizing the sport in New Jersey.
Beginning with his father, Gerardo, in the early 1900’s, the Cetrulo’s have been as much a fixture in fencing as the blades themselves.
Dean Cetrulo began taking lessons from his father and older brother, Gerald, when he was age five. Success came quickly.
Cetrulo went undefeated throughout his career at Barringer High School and became a state champion before he graduated. He went on to captain the team Seton Hall University and maintain his undefeated status throughout his four years fencing both saber and foil for the Pirates. Cetrulo finished his collegiate career with 96 consecutive victories.
Cetrulo reached the height of his potential in the 1940’s when he won the U.S. National Champions three times in both disciplines and culminated his amateur career by winning a team bronze at the 1948 Olympic in London.
“It was a thrill to win a medal for the U.S.,” Cetrulo said.
But as Cetrulo spoke, he couldn’t help admiring the plaque that would forever immortalize him as a 23 year-old fencer dressed in his traditional white.
“I’m so glad they got me at 23,” Cetrulo said. “Looks pretty good.”
Today, fencing is only something he watches from the sidelines. Now living in Bay Head, Cetrulo keeps active with a few rounds of golf, but hip replacement surgery keeps him from picking up a blade and lunging at a few opponents.
Cetrulo coached fencing until the early 1960’s at Barringer, Newark academy and Montclair State. He continued as a principle at Frank Smith School in East Hanover retiring in 1983. He says he may not be able to make it to Atlanta, but nothing would make him happier than for the U.S. to win a medal to develop a new following for the sport.
|Dean Cetrulo World War II hero, Olympian, educator: Newspaper Obituary and Death Notice
Star-Ledger, The (Newark, NJ) – May 13, 2010
Deceased Name: Dean Cetrulo World War II hero, Olympian, educator
Diaz Victor “Dean” Cetrulo, multiple times a U.S. national fencing champion and a Bronze Medal winner in saber fencing in the 1948 London Olympics, a Broadway actor with Hollywood good looks, the subject of a Hardy Boys mystery, “The Clue of the Broken Blade,” a war hero, musician and educator died peacefully on Sunday, May 9, 2010, at his home in Bay Head, N.J. He was 91 years old.
Born on Feb. 24, 1919, he was the last survivor among the five sons of Gerardo I. Cetrulo, a former world fencing master, and the patriarch of a three-generation family of highly accomplished fencers.
Dean was the former principal of Frank Smith School in East Hanover, N.J. He retired in 1983 to Bay Head, N.J., where he lived with his daughter, Maria Cetrulo Gaal, and his two grandchildren, Taylor and Katherine. His wife, the former Marion Napoliello, and a son, Dean Vincent, predeceased him.
Most notable among Dean’s Hollywood and Broadway credits, he was understudy to Jose Ferrer in the Playhouse 90 production of “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Dean and Ferrer became lifelong friends, and Dean entertained four generations of both the Cetrulo and Napoliello families with his renditions, complete with stage directions, of Cyrano’s most famous lines.
Dean was a member of the N.J. Athletic Hall of Fame, the Seton Hall University Athletic Hall of Fame, the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame and the U.S. National Fencing Hall of Fame. He was a previous member of the Manasquan River Golf Club, The Bay Head Yacht Club, as well as the Screen Actors Guild.
Dean made the transitions from eager pupil in fencing, under the tutelage of his father, Gerardo, and his oldest brother, Dr. Gerald I. Cetrulo, to U.S. national champion in foil in 1941 and 1947, and in saber in 1948, to Olympic bronze medal winner in London in 1948, to national prominence as a fencing coach at Barringer High School in Newark, N.J. and Newark Academy in Livingston, N.J.
Among Dean’s fencing students were his nephews, Dr. Stephen D. Cetrulo, of Taos, N.M., an All-American fencer for Columbia University in 1963; Gerald I. Cetrulo III of Pompton Lakes, N.J., captain of the NYU Fencing Team in 1962; Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo Sr. of Chilmark, Mass., captain of Columbia University’s NCAA Fencing Championship Team in 1965, and Lawrence G. Cetrulo Esq. of Cambridge, Mass., a member of the Harvard University Athletic Hall of Fame and three-time All-American fencer at Harvard from 1968 to 1970.
Lawrence Cetrulo recalled Dean as a “handsome, vibrant, funny and generous mentor and coach. He will be deeply missed and will live in our hearts forever as the best of his generation, and the best of what it means to be a Cetrulo.”
Dean was already an accomplished fencer by the time he reached Barringer High School in Newark, N.J. in 1934, where he was coached by Gerardo. He went to Seton Hall University where he was coached by the late Dr. Gerald I. Cetrulo II, his older brother, and where he was undefeated in both foil and saber, and an All-American. He finished his collegiate fencing career at Seton Hall with 96 consecutive victories, arguably the greatest achievement in the history of the collegiate sport of fencing. He and Gerald I. Cetrulo are memorialized in a life-sized mural adorning the foyer of the gym at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.
Dean was a captain and a Purple Heart decorated veteran of the U.S. Army 8th Air Force in World War II, whose story of escape and evasion is the stuff of Hollywood drama. He was shot down over enemy territory in Italy in 1944, captured, and later led a daring escape from a German P.O.W. convoy. Speaking Italian, he was able to avoid capture for months, eluding the German patrols as he made his way toward ever-advancing Allied lines, until he was dramatically reunited in Naples with his older brother Guido, who had sought leave from his post in Sicily to search for Dean on the Naples-Anzio front.
Dean’s Olympic accomplishments in 1948 are Olympic legend. He is the last U.S. fencer to compete in multiple weapons, competing in a grueling 14 day endurance contest of individual and team foil and saber. In addition to his bronze medal as a member of the U.S. Saber Team, his U.S. Foil Team placed 4th, missing a second bronze medal by the slimmest of margins and placed 9th in the foil individual and 11th in the saber individual championships.
Before Dean could compete in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, he was declared a professional and deemed ineligible by the U.S. Olympic Committee, in a bitterly disputed allegation that Dean had given fencing lessons to Hollywood actors such as Errol Flynn during his own acting career.
The fencing room at Newark Academy in Livingston, N.J., one of the finest fencing facilities in the country, is named in honor of Dean Cetrulo and The Cetrulo Fencing Family.
And yet of all his many accomplishments Dean would have told you that the one he was most proud of was his daughter, Maria, and his beloved grandchildren, Taylor and Katherine.
Funeral services are being held at the Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown, N.J. on Friday, May 14, 2010, at 10:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sacred Heart Church, 751 Main Ave., Bay Head, N.J. 08742.
The family will hold a memorial service at a later date this summer.
1948 Olympic Foil Team
left to right: Nat Lubell, Dean Cetrulo, Silvio Giolito, Dernell Every, Gus Prokop, Danny Bukantz