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LUCCHESE, SAM

LUCCHESE, SAM (1868–1929). Sam Lucchese, impresario, bootmaker, and real estate broker, was born in Sicily in 1868 and immigrated to the United States in 1883. Upon his arrival in San Antonio, he and his brothers opened the Lucchese Boot and Shoe Factory. Lucchese took a very practical approach to the making of boots, stressing quality, quantity, and cost efficiency. According to his grandson, bootmaker Samuel J. Lucchese, he was always eager to implement the newest machines and techniques for increasing production. In 1919 the factory had a daily production of thirty-five pairs of custom boots along with various other types of shoes. As his business prospered, Lucchese began to invest his profits in real estate around the city. In 1912 he purchased the Teatro Zaragoza, situated in the heart of the Mexican-American community in San Antonio and considered the center of Spanish-language dramatic entertainment. Having no experience in theater management, Lucchese initially hired the Carlos Villalongín Dramatic Company and Juan B. Padilla to oversee operations. By 1915 Lucchese had dismissed Padilla and began to manage the resident company himself. His responsibilities included hiring and firing staff, actors, and traveling companies. He also frequently traveled to Mexico to secure top talent from that center of Spanish-language entertainment (see MEXICAN-AMERICAN THEATER). He later opened the Teatro Nacional, a theater that would become an integral part of San Antonio's social entertainment throughout the 1920s. In 1923 Sam Lucchese suffered a stroke that forced him to turn over the daily management of the boot factory to his son, Cosimo, and to restrict his involvement in his theaters' operations. In 1929 he suffered yet another stroke at his home and died. He was survived by his wife, Frances (Battaglia), and seven children, including a daughter, Josephine Lucchese, who was a nationally known opera singer. While the family did not continue to actively support the theaters, the bootmaking continued for two more generations until his grandson sold the Lucchese Boot Company in 1970 to Blue Bell, Incorporated, the parent company of Wrangler.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Sam Lucchese with Tad S. Mizwa, A Lifetime with Boots (Houston: Cordovan, 1983). Elizabeth C. Ramírez, Footlights across the Border: A History of Spanish-Language Professional Theatre on the Texas Stage (New York: Lang, 1990). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Josephine Lucchese; Sam Lucchese).

Elizabeth C. Ramírez

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Elizabeth C. Ramírez, "LUCCHESE, SAM," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fluan), accessed August 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.