CELEBRITY GENEALOGY

I’ve Got a Crush on Steven Tyler’s Grandfather

Megan Smolenyak

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Steven Tyler and his great-uncle, Pasquale Tallarico

I remember seeing Aerosmith in concert back in my high school days, and it gives me comfort that Steven Tyler keeps on keeping on. As a rock star, grandfather, and quiet do-gooder who — along with more serious philanthropy — does things like treat his New Hampshire neighbors to ice cream at Hayward’s, he’s one of the quirkiest and most intriguing people out there. But the genealogist is me is more intrigued by his grandfather.

Tyler, born Steven Victor Tallarico, is an interesting blend: one-quarter Italian, one-quarter German, one-quarter Polish/Russian, and one-quarter American mutt (but featuring enough surnames like Elliott, Tibbetts and Gardner to suspect a preponderance of English).

You might think that it would be the Italian portion of his family tree that would captivate me because there’s a pronounced apple-didn’t-fall-far-from-the-it aspect to it. Tyler’s father, Victor Tallarico, was a pianist who led the Vic Tallarico orchestra for many years, and it was probably music that brought Vic’s parents — Constance, a music teacher, and Giovanni, who was also a musician with his own band — together. Giovanni was a mandolin guru associated with the Royal Conservatory of Music in Naples before he came to America. He was also the manager of his talented brother, Pasquale Tallarico.

Pasquale was something of a teen idol before there was such a thing, and had a bit of a bad boy rep as can be seen from this 1909 New York Times article, “Pasquale Tallarico Gets Fame, Leaves Wife,” that begins, “A pale-faced young man of 19, with a mass of hair arranged in the fashion of musicians, told Supreme Court Justice Gerard that he no longer loved his girl wife, Florence Agnes Tallarico, who is two years his junior.”

So it doesn’t surprise me that Tyler became a rock star. Given his roots, he almost had no choice.

Instead it was his Polish/Russian grandfather, Felix Blancha, who caught my eye. I’m half-Slavic myself, so know what it’s like to deal with the constantly changing borders of Eastern Europe. Many people of our heritage grew up hearing an old joke about grandpa living in four countries, but never moving from the house he was born in — all thanks to the borders shifting around him. And…

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Megan Smolenyak

Genealogical adventurer & storyteller who loves solving mysteries! You may not know me, but chances are you’ve seen my work. (www.MeganSmolenyak.com)