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Vincenzo Francis CILURZO


1924 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Vincenzo Francis CILURZO Obituary
VINCENZO FRANCIS CILURZO Vincenzo (Vince) Francis Cilurzo was born August 27, 1924, in Syracuse, New York, to Joseph and Mary Cilurzo, immigrants from Soverato, Italy. He attended and played baseball at Assumption High School in Syracuse. In 1943, Vince enlisted in the Marine Corps. where he continued playing baseball and joined the radar Air Warning Squadron while stationed in Santa Barbara, California. His squadron was sent to Hawaii before shipping out to Japan. World War II ended before his ship arrived. Vince spent several months in Okinawa learning about photography before coming home. Vince went to Syracuse University for a short time after the war, then started his own photography company. He attended a TV workshop in New York City landing a job at ABC-TV pulling cable. From there he worked up through the ranks eventually becoming cameraman. In 1951, he wrangled a transfer to ABC-TV in Hollywood. At the time he was married to his first wife, Donna, and had 2 young sons, Eric and Steve. While in Hollywood, Vince did lighting for many TV shows and specials, working with hundreds of stars in an exciting career that spanned more than 50 years. Some celebrities of note were Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Raquel Welch, Debbie Reynolds and Pat Boone to name only a few. He was lighting director for shows like Shindig, Dance Fever, Stars of Jazz, Hullabaloo, the Cavanaugh's, Merv Griffin Show, Joey Bishop Show, and many Frank Sinatra specials including The Main Event in Madison Square Gardens in 1974. Vince also did lighting for both the Emmy and Academy Awards shows for many years. He lit the Democratic Convention in 1960 when John F. Kennedy was nominated. Toward the end of his career in Hollywood Vince was lighting director on the popular TV game show Jeopardy. He held a patent on a lamp to project multicolored light called the Moodlite. Vince received two Emmy Awards for Stars of Jazz and The Merv Griffin Show. This chapter of his life is a book in itself! Vince and Audrey met on the set of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show. Audrey was chaperone to her teenage sister, Cathie Taylor, a popular folk singer at the time. They married October 20, 1963, and lived in Hollywood Hills. Audrey bought Vince a home-winemaking kit in the 1960's when he first discovered his love of wine. In 1967, they bought 100 acres of an old cattle ranch on Long Valley Road in a rural town called Temecula. Vince and Audrey planted the first premium wine grapes in the area in 1968- Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah. Later that year they had a daughter and named her Chenin. Their son, Vinnie, was born in 1970 and the family moved from Hollywood to live in Temecula. At that time, the population was around 350 residents. Vince, Audrey and Dr. John Piconi became business partners opening Cilurzo-Piconi Winery in 1978. They dissolved their partnership after a few years and the winery became Cilurzo Vineyards and Winery. Vince continued commuting to Hollywood over the years, working in the winery when time permitted with his family. Vince and Audrey sold the winery in 2004 and began enjoying their retirement together. Vince passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 with Audrey by his side. He is survived by Audrey; his brother Joe (Peggy) Cilurzo; sister Ann (Bill) Fitzpatrick; children Eric (Anna) Cilurzo, Steve Cilurzo, Chenin (Sean) Cilurzo-Carlton, and Vinnie (Natalie) Cilurzo; grandchildren Marc, Brian, Erica, and Andrea; and great-grandchildren Seth, Rozlynn, and Evalynn. He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and friends who adored Vince and the wonderful stories he loved to share, usually over a bottle of wine. The family would like to thank Delta Hospice and Vince's caregivers, especially Ed and Sonny. A Celebration of Life will be held to honor Vince on April 2nd at 2PM at Monteleone Meadows, 35245 Briggs Road, Murrieta. "The family that labels together, sticks together." -Vincenzo Cilurzo
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Published in Press-Enterprise from Mar. 20 to Mar. 27, 2016
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