Olga Barbato, a doyenne of Italian-American immigrant theater and radio, died June 15 in Brooklyn after a long illness.
President of the Italian Actors’ Union 1992-98, she was a native of in Sciacca, Sicily, literally born into theater: Her mother, actress Emma Alba, was pregnant with her yet continued to perform in husband Ernesto Barbato’ss traveling theater company.
She debuted on stage at age 4 with her father’s company (which included her brother, actor Attilio Barbato), touring Italy, Africa, Tripoli and Tunis. The family emigrated to the U.S. in 1924 when Olga was 10.
After the mother’s first marriage dissolved, Emma Alba was hired to star in Angelo Gloria’s theater company and later married Gloria; when he passed on, Barbato continued to work under her brother Attilio’s direction.
Barbato crossed over into the American arena with her 1971 blurb for Aunt Millie’s Tomato Sauce and as a voice for AT&T. She also garnered several feature roles, Angelina, the medium, in Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose.”
She is survived by a daughter, Delia, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.