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About Andrew Mazzei 1887-1975

Blackpool Theatres Index - Blackpool Theatres Article by Donald Auty

A photograph of the Cast and Crew of the silent film 'The Physician' in 1928 - Courtesy Darin Mazzie.

Above - A photograph of the Cast and Crew of the silent film 'The Physician' in 1928 - Courtesy Darin Mazzie. Andrew Mazzei is standing 2nd from the left, the film's producer Gareth Gundrey is seated left, and David Lean, the assistant Director, can be seen to the right of the photo. The Actress Elga Brink is in the front, Actor Henry Vibart is 3rd left at the back, Actor Ian Hunter is centre at the back, Georg Jacoby, the director of the film, is in front of Henry Vibart, and Ian Hunter and Gaetano di Ventimiglia (aka the Baron) the cameraman, is third from right with his hand on the shoulder of the bald headed man. Both Ian Hunter and Gaetano di Ventimiglia worked for Alfred Hitchcock on a few early silent films - Some of this information was very kindly sent in by Townly Cooke - If you can place the other people in this photo please Contact me.

Andrew Mazzei was born in Havre, France on the 2nd of August 1887, and was a well known film and set designer who worked on over 60 films. In the 1930s he also worked on the plasterwork and decorations for several well known theatrical venues in Blackpool including the Baronial Hall, the Floral Hall, the Galleon Bar and Renaissance Room, the Olympia Hall, and the Spanish Hall, and he was also involved with the reconstruction of the Tower Ballroom in 1956 following a fire.

The Baronial Hall was designed as a medieval style banqueting hall and features what looks like dark oak paneling and beams, but is in reality just cleverly created plasterwork. Today the Hall is used for dining and wedding receptions and the like and can be used on its own or as an extension to the Spanish Hall. The Spanish Hall was designed by Andrew Mazzei in the art deco style with a three dimensional frieze surrounding it depicting the Andalusian Hills and Villages, and is reminiscent of the Brixton and Finsbury Park Astoria Theatres in London with their 'Atmospheric' auditoriums.

The entrance to the Mazzei Cafe in the Winter Garden's Complex, Blackpool in November 2013 - Photo M. L.The Grade II Listed Winter Gardens was refurbished in 2011 at a cost of some £1.2 million, and at this time some of the Floral Hall's original plasterwork by the famous film set designer, Andrew Mazzei, was discovered, still intact, under the paneling which had been hiding it since the Floral Hall had been used as an amusement arcade in the 1960s. This has now been restored and reinstated along with the Hall's original mirrors. The Floral Hall reopened to the public on February the 12th 2011. At this time the owners of the Winter Garden's Complex also opened the "Mazzei Cafe" in Andrew Mazzei's honour.

Right - The entrance to the Mazzei Cafe in the Winter Garden's Complex, Blackpool in November 2013 - Photo M. L.

The Galleon Bar, or Ye Galleon, as it was called when it was first opened in May 1931, along with the Renaissance Restaurant, is a wildly creative recreation of an old Galleon Ship from the Spanish Armada by Andrew Mazzei, complete with oak beams etc, and all actually done in cleverly creative plasterwork. Construction of the Olympia Hall took 8 months and it opened in June 1930 with its lavish interior housing stalls and attractions created to resemble a Moorish village, all designed by Andrew Mazzei. After the fire in the Tower Ballroom in 1956 Andrew Mazzei, who had worked in the Ballroom as a boy, spent weeks studying the ruined decorations, and photographs of the building before the fire, as a guide to its restoration. Interestingly his father is said to have worked on the original designs for the Tower Ballroom along with Frank Matcham in 1899.

The Mazzei Cafe in the Winter Garden's Complex, Blackpool in November 2013 - Photo M. L.

Above - The Mazzei Cafe in the Winter Garden's Complex, Blackpool in November 2013 - Photo M. L.

Andrew Mazzei's Naturalisation Report of 1925Andrew Mazzei's Naturalisation Report of 1925 contains a potted biography which I have transcribed below:-

With reference to the application for a certificate of British Naturalisation by ANDRE JEAN LOUIS MAZZEI, residing at 30, Stanlake Road, Shepherds Bush:

I beg to report that applicant in registered at Bow Street Registration Office under Serial No. ------ certificate No. -------

Applicant produced certificate showing his birth at Havre, France, on August 2nd. 1887, of Italian parents, named Giovanni and Evarestine Maria Mazzei, mother previously French, family name Lemen. His father is alive and resides at Southampton; his mother is dead. Memorialist states that his father has informed him that he (applicant) was registered at Havre as an Italian. He has no other papers than that mentioned above, with regard to his origin. He is employed with a British Film Company as an Art Director.

Memorialist produced a certificate of his marriage to Alice Fairclough, a British woman at Blackpool on 7/10/1912. There are no children of the marriage.

His wife is registered as an Italian at Bow Street Office under Serial ------, certificate ------.

Applicant's total period of residence in this country is about 33 years. He appears to be a respectable man and according to enquiry was brought to London by his parents when 3 years of age. He stayed in London until he was nine years of age, when his father took him to Italy for 12 months. He then returned to England and for a short time lived at Brighton when they moved to Manchester. Nine months later Memorialist and his father went to Blackpool, where Memorialist made his home until he came to London in the year 1913. In that year he went to the United states of America for experience, but after three months again came to England, and has resided here ever since. During the war Memorialist was employed on the reconstruction of the late Lord Kitchener's house at Broome Park, Knowlton, Kent, where he was engaged on the special modelling work, as verified by correspondence in his possession.

Memorialist then went to work for a year for Messrs. Jordans, Brixton Hill, making artificial limbs for mutiliated soldiers. On the 14th March 1918 he volunteered for the British army and was graded 2. Messrs. Jordans then saw Memorialist and pointed out that the work upon which the firm was engaged, was a necessity, and Memorialist then agreed to the firm applying for his exemption, which was granted.

After the war Memorialist worked for Messrs. J. Panichelli a Sons, Hammersmith, on architectural and Plaster work until 1921, and then obtained employment with the "Famous Players-Lasky British Producers Limited" of 166/170, Wardour Street, W., and Poole street, New North Road, Islington, and has been with them since.

On the 21st March 1923 Memorialist went to Berlin for the above Film company and was there until the 9th June 1923; he went to Paris for the same firm on business on 23rd august 1924 and returned to London on the 6th February, 1925, on each occasion travelling on Home Office permit. With the exception of those periods stated above, Memorialist has resided here continuously for the past twenty-eight years, states it is his intention to remain herein permanently and seeks to obtain the rights and capacities of a natural-born British subject.

The Above Text is from Andrew Mazzei's Naturalisation Report of 1925.

An advertisement showing some of Andrew Mazzei's Film Productions and work on Blackpool Venues - Courtesy Darin Mazzie.

Above - An advertisement showing some of Andrew Mazzei's Film Productions and work on Blackpool Venues - Courtesy Darin Mazzie.

Much of the information on this page was kindly sent in by Darin Mazzie, who says 'My Gt-Gt-Gt Grandfather, Ferdinando Roberto Mazzei (1819-1904) was a Plaster Figure Maker and Moulder from Tuscany in Italy. He came to the the UK in 1845 with his 2 brothers, Pellegrino Mazzei (1811-1869) and Giovanni Mazzei (1813-1872) (also Plaster Figure Makers). Their older brother, Luigi Mazzei (1809-1876) stayed in Italy. His son was Giovanni Mazzei (born Italy 1852). Giovanni was the father of Andrew so Andrew's Grandfather and my 3x Gt Grandfather were brothers. He kept in touch with his 2nd cousins in the UK (ie my Gt-Grandfather and his brothers and sisters), and even invited 2 of the daughters to take screen tests (which they failed). Just in case you were wondering, the "MAZZEI" spelling of the name was changed by my Gt-Grandfather to "MAZZIE." Seemingly he believed that was the proper spelling. My Gt-Grandfathers' brother kept the MAZZEI spelling however, as did Andrew. That's why my name is "Darin Mazzie" and not Mazzei. - Darin Mazzie.

If you have any more information or images for Andrew Mazzei which you are willing to share please Contact me.

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