Domenico Modugno dedicated the song “Vecchio Frac” to the mysterious death of Raimondo Lanza di Trabia, although some say he was inspired by a ghost story told him by his mother, when he was a child.
Raimondo Lanza di Trabia (1915 –1954) was an Italian nobleman, (descendant, but not legitimate, of Federico Barbarossa) soldier, diplomat and sportsman, nicknamed the “great dandy”, or the “last Sicilian prince.
He was born from an underground relation between the Sicilian prince Giuseppe Lanza Branciforte, and a Venetian noblewoman. Thanks to his paternal grandmother he was legitimised and raised by his grandparents in Palermo.
He served as a volunteer during the Spanish Civil War and during World War II he was an Army officer. In that period, he became friend of Galeazzo and Edda Ciano, Gianni Agnelli and his sister Susanna (they were engaged for some time) and, after the war, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Luchino Visconti. He went hunting for tigers with the Persian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, made a driving school with Tazio Nuvolari, had long guest in his castle-palace on the outskirts of Palermo Aristotle Onassis.
He spent many Sicilian summers in the company of Hollywood star Errol Flynn, of whom he was almost the alter ego: they resembled each other very much and combed their hair and wore their moustache in the same way. His many conquests included, among others, Rita Hayworth and Carroll Baker.
He was a notorious bon viveur, a playboy and a multi-faceted man
After the war he studied in England and then moved to Paris to undertake the diplomatic career.
In the early ’50s he became chairman of the football team U.S. Città di Palermo and set out on a mission to turn it into one of Italy’s great football clubs, bringing to Palermo some talented players,
When he was in Milan, he stayed at Hotel Gallia room 131, a fabulous hotel just a stone’s throw from the Stazione Centrale, which gradually became the official headquarters for transfer market: fans used to gather outside hoping to hear the latest news.
He then married actress Olga Villi and they had two daughters
It was the dawn of 30 November 1954, when he died under suspicious circumstances at the age of 39, He fell from the window of his suite at Hotel Eden in Rome, completely naked
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According to journalist Vincenzo Prestigiacomo the story of the tailcoat is pure fantasy as Raimondo Lanza di Trabia had never worn one. He was a true nonconformist: he went to Ranieri di Monaco’s receptions dressed in a pilot’s suit and to Gianni Agnelli’s wedding wearing casual clothes.