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Why Mussolini’s son came to Ontario in 1937

By in Press Enterprise on December 26, 2017

By Joe Blackstock

The region played host to a real international celebrity in 1937 when Vittorio Mussolini, son of the Italian dictator, attended a lavish affair in the Guasti area of Ontario.

The event, and his arrival in Hollywood, came at a tense time for his family after his father’s armies recently invaded Ethiopia amid harsh criticism from many countries.

All of the political talk was apparently pushed aside on the evening of Oct. 6, 1937, when the younger Mussolini attended the Guasti celebration.

It was held at the 5,000-acre ranch of the Italian Vineyard Co., the business created by the legendary winemaker Secondo Guasti, reported the San Bernardino Sun the following day. The late Guasti had become an acquaintance of Benito Mussolini years before in his native country and was awarded several honors for his work in the wine industry in America.

Vittorio Mussolini, son of the Italian dictator, was in the Ontario area in 1937.

But wine wasn’t what brought the 21-year-old Vittorio to the U.S. He was interested in motion pictures and came to Hollywood to finalize a reported $6 million deal with Hal Roach Studios to produce motion pictures in Italy.

Vittorio came to Guasti accompanied by Roach’s son, joining about 75 people at the event that marked the 37th anniversary of the Italian Vineyard Co.

“The distinguished visitor, described as being extremely bashful, expressed himself as much interested in the Southland wine industry and marveled at the magnitude of the Italian vineyard,” noted the Sun.

Things were apparently quiet at the Guasti affair but Mussolini’s arrival did trigger some demonstrations in Los Angeles. He was closely guarded by police everywhere he went.

The day after the Guasti event, Mussolini without warning, boarded a plane and flew to New York and later Washington, D.C. A Chicago writer said despite the agreement with Roach, he was completely snubbed […]    

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