A girl’s wedding day is most often considered the biggest day of her life. Most all girls imagine and plan how it will be on that special occasion, even at the earliest ages, imagining and dreaming of the day when she takes her vows to be someone’s wife. For us girls, we are a princess for that one day, our fairy tale. It is our special day, where all our dreams finally come true. Never in our wildest dreams, or nightmares, would we ever imagine that tragedy would strike on that perfect day. Sadly, for one New York couple in 1946, their fairy tale didn’t come true.
Angela “Rose” De Fabrizio waited two years to be reunited with her childhood sweetheart, John Mastantuono, a Army Medical corps veteran. The couple had met back in high school and fell in love fast. When Rose was 19 she and 18 year old John (or Johnny) had decided to marry. Unfortunately for them, Johnny was sent to war, crushing Rose’s dreams of wedding her beloved.
Despite the odds, Rose kept optimistic the two years that Johnny was away. Knowing that one day, he would come back to her and they would finally have their happy ending. When he finally returned from the service, Johnny made plans for them to wed in October of 1946. Rose then quit her job, while Johnny took on the role of a working husband-to-be. With the help of his father, he purchased a home for his bride, furnishing the entire place to her liking. He bought her a ring and even borrowed a new car for the wedding day, in order for them to travel to Atlantic City to honeymoon.
|Life Magazine, October 21,1946|
On the day of the wedding, Johnny met Rose before leaving for the Church. They knew the old wives tale that it was bad luck to see each other before the wedding, but that didn’t seem to matter to them, they were so very much in love. The last thing Rose said to Johnny before leaving to the Church was, “John, I love you with all my heart.”
At the Church, Johnny was in the rear of the building unaware of what tragedy was to come. Rose and her father were just outside the Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, and had just started taking the steps up to the entrance when Rose stepped on her train.
Just as her father bent down to fix the train that had been caught on her shoe, Rose collapsed to the ground. Her father grabbed her and held her in his arms, thinking she had only fainted. But as soon as he realized she was not breathing, a panic set in. Immediately people rushed to her side to aid her. Dr. Vivona, who was a guest of the wedding, rushed to her side along with a 12-men fire department rescue squad who arrived shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, they attempted to revive her, in vain. She had died immediately upon collapse. Johnny was devastated, along with Rose’s family and friends.
The newspapers fabricated a statement allegedly said by Rose's father, claiming he said: “The music started. The organ played ‘Here Comes the Bride.’ Six ushers and six bridesmaids were lined up along the aisle. I gave her my arm, my beautiful little girl. We marched. We had practiced good. We knew what to do, we took four steps, maybe, and she whispered, ‘wait.’ She pointed to the hem of her dress. She had stepped on it. I told her ‘I’ll fix it, don’t you bend down.’ Then it happened. ‘I’m dizzy,’ she said, and she fell. Mia Bambina, and somebody screamed.”
|Life Magazine, October 21, 194|
According to Rose's sister, Gloria Napolitano, the newspaper's statements were entirely false, and that her father never said those things quoted in the papers. Gloria's son-in-law Bob Manning emailed me adding that Rose's father never spoke to Life Magazine either, and that the photos in the magazine were sold against the families wishes by the photographer. "The family attempted to sue the magazine until a lawyer suggested that he would be making money off of his daughters death", which is not what he wanted. Regrettably, her father dropped the suit.