Umbert Lombardi/Umberto of Naples, 78, local NJ cable-access personality -- bus/pedestrian accident
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That Derek
2018-01-30 01:51:55 UTC
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Umberto Lombardi/Umbeto of Naples: An Appreciation

by Derek Tague

Sadly, I have just learned from my pal “Uncle” Floyd Vivino about the passing of Nutley/Belleville NJ-based hairdresser and local entertainment impresario UMBERTO LOMBARDI, 78. Mr. Lombardi was struck and killed by a New Jersey Transit articulated (i.e., extended) route Number 13 bus while crossing the intersection of Bloomfield Avenue and Centre Street in Nutley on the evening of Thursday, January 11, 2018.

Umberto Lombardi was a local Essex County minor celebrity. He first came to the attention of Vivino when Umberto bought advertising time from Floyd in the mid-1970s, a time when Vivino’s local TV kiddie-show parody “the Uncle Floyd Show” was gaining a cult status from mainstream New York City radio personalities and among college students.

By trade, Lombardi was a hair stylist based in Belleville with his signature shop “Umberto of Naples” on the burgh’s main drag Washington Avenue. Invariably, Umberto billed himself as the “world’s fastest hairstylist,” or as being proficient enough in his craft that he was able “to cut hair blindfolded.”

Contemporaneous with his status as a semi-regular on the Floydcast, Umberto also managed the career of local Italian-born singer Pepe Villani, who often appeared lip-synching the title tune from his album “Disco Godfather,” which included updated disco-beat versions of popular Italian chart favorites such as “Quando, Quando, Quando,” “Arrivederci, Roma,” “Malafemmena,” and “Speak Softly, Love (Love Theme from ‘The Godfather).’”

It seems that because of his involvement with Vivino and Villani, Umberto, himself, caught the showbiz bug. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Umberto could be found hosting and/or producing local Italo-American-themed cable-access programs over Suburban Cablevision (later bought and incorporated into Comcast). Usually, Umberto would open up such outings with a doppelgänger puppet named “Marcello,” and then present some form of Italian cultural entertainment.

However, Umberto’s ventriloquial skills came off as being subpar – not based on minimal lip movement but because he did very little to differentiate his own speaking voice with that of Marcello’s. One of the team’s go-to routines presented Umberto and Marcello getting into a heated argument which would devolve into:

“Why should I listen to you? – you’re a dummy.”
“Hey, I’m not the dummy, you’re the dummy.”
“No, you’re the dummy.”
“No, you’re the dummy.”
“How can I possibly be the dummy when you’re the dummy? …”

Say what you want about this shtick, but years later James Woods did a similar ventriloquist sketch when he guest-hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

After this introductory patter, Umberto would present something really simplistic such as televising the video of an imported soccer/futbol match featuring Italian teams, or setting up a camera at an Italian-American ballroom dance, as can be seen her at this YouTube link:

Though I had not seen Umberto on local-origination television in recent years, I was particularly saddened by his tragic and ignominious demise. Happily, I do remember him as having been a part of a low-rent New Jersey TV zeitgeist that existed in a bubble at a time when all the mainstream TV channels servicing New Jersey either came from New York or Philadelphia. Fortunately, vehicles like “The Uncle Floyd Show” were available to assist in bringing to the public local marginalized celebrities who might have, otherwise, been consigned to becoming show business footnotes.

God bless you, Umberto of Naples.


Pedestrian struck by NJ Transit bus in Nutley

Joshua Jongsma, Staff Writer, @jongsmjo Published 10:26 p.m. ET

Jan. 11, 2018 | Updated 12:02 a.m. ET Jan. 12, 2018

NUTLEY — A male pedestrian was struck by a New Jersey Transit bus in Nutley Thursday night.

The incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. at Bloomfield Avenue and Centre Street. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office was on the scene along with the Nutley police and fire departments.

Essex County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly confirmed there was an incident but could not provide further information. Nutley police at the scene declined to comment.

A New Jersey Transit bus could be seen at the scene. A message left for an NJ Transit spokesperson was not immediately returned.

Check back Friday for more on this developing story.

Email: ***@northjersey.com


Police & Fire

Pedestrian Victim in Fatal Bus Accident Identified as 78 year old Nutley Man


January 12, 2018 at 3:40 PM

NUTLEY, NJ - Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino and Nutley Police Chief Thomas J. Strumolo released details about the pedestrian victim of the fatal accident involving a NJ Transit bus last night in Nutley.
Umberto Lombardi, 78, was struck and killed by an articulated bus turning left from Bloomfield Avenue to Centre Street. Lombardi was crossing the street at the time that the No. 13 bus hit him.

The Nutley Police Department, Nutley Fire Department and the Nutley Volunteer Emergency and Rescue Squad responded to the scene. Lombardi was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:15 p.m.

There were no obvious signs of impairment. No charges have been filed against the driver at this time. The investigation is active an ongoing.

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2018-01-30 05:44:10 UTC
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Sad. Always wondered what happened to him. The ventriloquist act with the doppelgänger dummy was more bizarre than anything in Andy Kaufman’s entire act. In today’s viral world, he might’ve reached Tommy Wiseau -Disaster Artist fame. RIP