WESTON, Fla., March 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- It's common knowledge that The National Enquirer, under the pioneering stewardship of founding editor Gene Pope, became an iconic paper in the annals of journalism, repeatedly breaking the biggest, most salacious celebrity scandals and creating the genre of tabloid journalism that serves as a model for much of the print and television media today. But just as incredible as the history of the meteoric rise of the Enquirer to the top of the journalism heapare the untold stories of the Pope family itself, one of the most influential Italian-American families in the history of the U.S. These jaw-dropping stories, as well as thousands of photos, secret FBI and CIA files, archival material from presidential libraries, and hundreds of hours of film and video footage productions, are now archived in The Pope Media Center, a cutting-edge media library that took more than two decades to compile. Founded by Paul David Pope, son of Gene Pope, The Pope Media Center is poised to serve as an invaluable resource to journalists, documentarians, filmmakers and historians across the country.
Below are just a few of the fascinating facts from The Pope Media Center that detail the rich, largely untold history of the Pope family and the National Enquirer.
For example, did you know…
That after leaving his tiny village of Pasquarielli at age 15 and arriving in New York City with just $10 in his pocket, Generoso Pope Sr., father of Enquirer editor Gene Pope, became, at age 36, the millionaire president of Colonial Sand and Stone Co., the country's largest sand and gravel business? Colonial provided the concrete for most of the New York City skyline, including Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.
That Il Progresso Italo-Americano, the Italian-American paper that Generoso Pope Sr. bought in 1928, was the largest Italian-language paper in America?
That Generoso Pope Sr.'s support of Benito Mussolini prior to World War II resulted in an attempt on his life with a deadly letter-bomb? It exploded prematurely, killing two innocent people.
That throughout the 1940s, Generoso Pope Sr. often visited the White House, acting as an important advisor to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman?
That National Enquirer founder Gene Pope graduated from MIT at age 19?
That Gene Pope first worked as an intelligence officer for the CIA before leaving to follow his dream of publishing his own newspaper?
That the top-selling issue of the Enquirer was the September 6, 1977 edition, with the now-iconic cover showing Elvis Presley in his coffin?
That the 126-foot spruce tree that was erected and decorated on the grounds of the National Enquirer headquarters for Christmas 1987 was named the "World's Tallest Decorated Tree" by the Guinness Book of World Records?
That Gene Pope buried a story on the cover-up of Mary Jo Kopechne's death when Ted Kennedy drove his car off Chappaquiddick Bridge, in hopes that Kennedy would someday help him gain access to the Kennedys he believed his readers really cared about: Jackie Kennedy and her two children, Caroline and John Jr.?
That high-profile financier Pete Peterson, the co-founder of legendary private equity firm The Blackstone Group, was a close friend and confidante of Gene Pope's from MIT, and was charged with selling the Enquirer after Gene's death?
Currently, access to The Pope Media Center is by appointment only. For more information, please visit www.popemediacenter.com.