Fabio Lanzoni (Italian pronunciation: [ˈfaːbjo lanˈtsoːni]; born March 15, 1959), known mononymously as Fabio, is an Italian-American actor, fashion model, and spokesman.

Fabio Lanzoni
Lanzoni in Hollywood, California on December 4, 2014
Born (1959-03-15) March 15, 1959 (age 64)
CitizenshipItaly and United States
  • Model
  • actor
  • spokesman
Years active1973–2021
Height1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)

Lanzoni is known for his wide-ranging career including appearing as a romance novel cover model throughout the 1990s, his acting and television roles including multiple cameo appearances as himself, and his music and books. He has been a spokesman for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter![3] and the American Cancer Society.[4]

Early life Edit

Lanzoni was born 15 March 1959 in Milan, Italy, to Flora Carnicelli Lanzoni and Sauro Lanzoni, a mechanical engineer and owner of a conveyor-belt factory and/or company.[5] Lanzoni has an older brother, Walter (who The Spokesman-Review described as short and bald[6]), and younger sister, Cristina.[5] Lanzoni's father wanted Lanzoni to become an engineer and take over the family business.[7]

When he was 3 years old, Lanzoni sampled liquors that were left on the kitchen counter, leading to him being hospitalized.[8] Lanzoni claims this unpleasant experience "left a lasting bad impression" and caused his lifelong aversion to alcohol.[8]

Fabio claims he first became aware of his magnetism in kindergarten: "After lunch, [the kindergarteners] would go for a little nap. All the little girls wanted to sleep next to me."[6]

He first rode a motorbike at the age of 8 years old, and he credits a store close to his school as inspiring his lifelong fascination with motorcycles and dirt bikes.[9]

During the first five years of Lanzoni's life, he was raised primarily by his grandmother, whom he has called "the most influential woman" in his life.[8] She died of cancer when Lanzoni was 13, having kept her diagnosis a secret from the family.[8] This death severely impacted Lanzoni, inspiring him to later become the spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.[8]

Raised Catholic, he served as an altar boy.[5] Lanzoni claims he was "always in trouble for breaking the rules and getting kicked out of school."[10]

His modelling career began when he was discovered by a photographer while working out.[5]

Lanzoni claimed he was "in the military for a couple of years," where they shaved his hair.[11]

Career Edit

Lanzoni is best recognized for his appearance on the covers of hundreds of romance novels.[12] In 2015, while describing his career, Lanzoni told The Guardian,

I'd be the biggest hypocrite if I said I really worked very hard for my career, because it was given to me on a silver platter. I can't take any credit. My major focus was sports and going to the gym.[13]

Television and media Edit

Lanzoni first came to the United States at the age of 13; he intended to stay, but his parents forbade him due to his age.[14] Lanzoni hoped to live in America, calling it "the greatest country in the world."[14]

At 14 years old (circa 1973), Fabio received his first modeling contract in Italy. In 2015, he described the event to The Guardian:

My career started when I was barely 14 years old. I was in Milan, at the gym, and one of the two biggest photographers in Europe, Oliviero Toscani, came up to me and said, 'You should model.' I wasn't in the industry, so I had no idea who he was. I remember giving him my father's phone number. He called my father, hired me for a big campaign and things took off from there.[13]

In his teenage years, Lanzoni participated in such sports as horseback riding, windsurfing, and slalom and downhill skiing.[8]

In 1975, when Lanzoni was 16, he became a ski-racing champion in his hometown of Milan.[8] However, he broke his leg while skiing a slalom course; he was placed in traction for a week and in a cast for four months. His doctor suggested weight lifting as physical therapy, and Lanzoni "fell in love" with the training.[8]

At 19 years of age, Lanzoni dropped out of university[15] and moved to America, to the frustration of his parents.[10][14] Lanzoni recalls, "My father was totally against it. My father always said, 'He's going to get it out of his system and come back with his tail between his legs.'"[10]

Within 48 hours of arriving in America,[10] Lanzoni "walked into the Ford modelling agency without an appointment and walked out with a contract."[13] The following day, he met with Barry McKinley,[16] whom Lanzoni called "the biggest photographer in the world" at the time.[13] McKinley hired Lanzoni for the launch of Gap Inc. The contract was for $150,000, which was—according to Lanzoni—$30,000 more than what contemporaneous top male models in the world received.[13] Lanzoni considered himself one of the first "really muscular" models, and he began to pose for 15 or 16 book cover photoshoots a day.[13][5] Other early jobs included video shoots for Nintendo.[5]

Lanzoni claims his first realization of his fame was in 1987, at the age of 28.[17] That year, he modeled for romance novel Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey, in a cover painted by Elaine Duillo.[18][19] While dancing in a Miami nightclub, Lanzoni was recognized by 3 women from romance novel covers. Prior to the encounter, Lanzoni knew he had taken photos for use in book covers, but had never seen the finished product.[17][20] In a 2021 People interview, Lanzoni recalls:

[These] three girls come over and say, 'You look exactly like the guy on our books!' I said, 'That's a good pickup line.' [After they return to show me the books,] "I go like, 'Oh my God, that's me.' It was the first time I saw myself on the cover of the books.[21][20]

More photography and film roles followed. In 1989, Lanzoni appeared as the hero Kuros on the cover of Nintendo game Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II.[22][23] In 1990, Lanzoni acted as an angel in horror film The Exorcist III.[24][25][26] In 1991 film Scenes from a Mall, Lanzoni is credited for the role of "Handsome Man."[27][28]

In 1992, Robert Gottlieb of William Morris Agency became Lanzoni's literary agent; Lanzoni became the first bestselling male romance writer to use his real name.[29][23] Lanzoni published Pirate (1993),[30] Rogue (1994),[31] Viking (1994),[32] Comanche (1995),[33] and Champion (1995),[34] all of which were written in collaboration with romance author Eugenia Riley. Lanzoni later collaborated with Wendy Corsi Staub[35][36] to write Dangerous (1996),[37] Wild (1997),[38] and Mysterious (1998).[36][39]

Lanzoni in 1993 (left), participating in the annual StarGaze charity event at Pilot Field in Buffalo, New York

During the Christmas season of 1992, an all-Fabio pin-up calendar for 1993 appeared in major bookstores[40][41][42] and was a top seller.[43]

In 1993, Lanzoni released an album titled Fabio After Dark, which included 17 tracks.[44][45] Billboard reported that Lazoni's contributions "were all spoken word; he let guests like Billy Ocean and Dionne Warwick do the singing."[46] Interspersed between the music are Lanzoni's soliloquies on his philosophies of love, such as "Fabio: On Inner Beauty" and "Fabio: On Humor."[4][47][48]

In 1993,[49][50] Versace contracted Lanzoni to model their Mediterraneum fragrance. Lanzoni alleged in 2021 that the company still owed him $1 million in profits.[51] In 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported on the promotional meet-and-greet at the Sherman Oaks Bullock's men's fragrance department.[50] Fans lined up to receive "a hug, an autograph, a photo taken with their own camera," and occasionally a "quick smooch."[50]

In 1993, American author and publisher Helen Gurley Brown stated that Fabio is "terribly big and has very long hair and classic Roman coin features, so it's hard to forget what he looks like. I find him so astonishing looking that you can hardly concentrate on what he's saying. Plus, he has got good promoters who make you aware of him."[50] That year, the L.A. Times claimed Hillary Rodham Clinton "flirted with [Lanzoni] on a [circa 1993] White House visit."[50]

In 1993, Fabio's manager Peter F. Paul published Fabio's biography, Fabio.[44] It contains over 100 photographs, presumably of Fabio. According to Paul's biography, by 1992, over 55,000,000 Fabio romance covers had been sold.[44] Paul is infamous for drug dealing, fraud, and a plot to defraud the Cuban government.[44] Fabio's first dedication in 1995 book Fabio Fitness is to Paul; he writes:

A very special thanks to Peter F. Paul my business partner, manager, and most of all my friend. [sic] He has dedicated his indefatigable energy and creativity to working with me and creating what has come to be known as "The Fabio Phenomenon."[8]

Around that time, Lanzoni claimed, "In the last year and a half, I can count in a hand how many days off I had. I've been working every single day, up to 17, 18 hours a day. I'm not even going to the gym anymore."[50] Dr. Donnamarie White, romance author and creator of the official Fabio fan club who met Fabio on multiple occasions,[50] claims Fabio stopped modeling in 1993.[44]

From 1993 to 1994, Lanzoni starred in the syndicated TV series Acapulco H.E.A.T. in the role of Claudio.[52][53] That year, he became the spokesman for spread brand I Can't Believe It's Not Butter![3]

In 1996, Lanzoni starred as himself in comedy film Spy Hard.[54] The following year, Lanzoni was featured as himself in a Step by Step episode "Absolutely Fabio."[55][56][57][58] In 1998, he appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien doing a brief comedic sketch.[59][60] In 1996, his manager Eric Ashenberg stated that Lanzoni was looking for "something more in the Errol Flynn style, something romantic."[6]

In 1999, comedian Tom Green toured Fabio's house, an interview that included Fabio throwing him into his pool multiple times. Lanzoni revealed that his kitchen was full of dirt bikes, and he considered it an empty room, as he never ate at home. Green repeatedly asked the cost of Fabio's home sound system (possibly over one million dollars), pleaded with Fabio to take his shirt off, borrowed Fabio's tank top, and finally went on a shirtless CR250 motorcycle ride with Fabio.[61][62]

In 2000, Lanzoni had a cameo in stoner comedy film Dude, Where's My Car?[63][64] Lanzoni lampooned himself in comedy film Zoolander the following year, which featured over a dozen celebrity cameos. Screen Rant describes his cameo as one of the most memorable:

Fabio and a fan in Times Square circa 2005.

Fabio is showcased in Zoolander early on. He appears after the opening sequence, as a fellow model at the ceremony the main characters attend. He is shown accepting an award before Male Model of the Year is awarded. Fabio's lines are funny, thanking the audience for naming him the best "actor slash model, and not the other way around."[65]

In 2002, 2003, and 2012, Fabio appeared in soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, as a close friend of the character Sally Spectra, played by Darlene Conley.[20][66][67]

In 2005, Lanzoni hosted the American reality television series Mr. Romance. The series featured a dozen male contestants competing for the title of "Mr. Romance" and the opportunity to appear as a romance novel cover model.[44][56]

In 2010, he was featured in Big Time Rush[68] and played the character Captain Hawk in The Suite Life on Deck episode "Senior Ditch Day."[69]

Spokesman Edit

Lanzoni appeared prominently in advertising for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! and has been the spokesman for the company since 1994. He was also the spokesman for the Geek Squad in 2007, Oral-B's Sensitive Advantage Toothbrush in 2006 (whose ad was featured in Times Square), and one of his most popular ads to date is for Nationwide Insurance. In 2006, the commercial for Nationwide aired during the Super Bowl and was the most viewed commercial for the game, garnering over 1 million views within two weeks. Other endorsements included Wickes Furniture, Ames Hardware, Old Spice, and the American Cancer Society.

On July 26, 2011, Old Spice launched a campaign on YouTube in which Lanzoni challenges Isaiah Mustafa to try to replace him as the New Old Spice Guy. The online challenge was entitled Mano a Mano in el Baño (hand-to-hand in the bathroom). Mustafa emerged as the winner, though Lanzoni's Old Spice YouTube Channel received more than 9 million views in the week after its debut, rising to Number 4 on YouTube for the week.[70]

Once a spokesman for the American Cancer Society, Lanzoni has spoken for the controversial Burzynski Clinic, where his sister was receiving treatment for ovarian cancer. In April 2013, Lanzoni stated in an interview that "he is a genius. He definitely, I believe, he has the cure for cancer... They have to let him get his office back and let him do his work..."[71] Lanzoni's younger sister died[13] in August 2013.

Business ventures Edit

In 2003, Lanzoni launched a clothing line at the Sam's Club division of Walmart. The line was casual wear for women. Prior to his clothing line, he wrote a fitness book and created a work-out video called Fabio Fitness. In 2008, he launched Healthy Planet Vitamins, a company selling whey protein, glutamine, and colostrum products.[72]

In 2021, he launched a hair and skincare line for men titled Aston James, with the help of two Australian entrepreneurs.[10][73][74][75] The company's mission is to, "bring the experience of buying a Rolex to the men's personal care space."[73] Lanzoni has stated the company name Aston James is a portmanteau of Aston Martin and James Bond.[73][11]

Goose incident Edit

On March 30, 1999,[76][77][78] an event occurred that became known as Lanzoni's "goose incident."[79][80] During a promotional event, Lanzoni was seated in the front row of inaugural ride of the Apollo's Chariot roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.[77][78] He was accompanied by more than 30 women[81] dressed as Greek goddesses.[76][78] Once the ride ascended to 73 miles per hour,[78] Lanzoni claims a flock of hundreds of geese flew by and one of the geese was sucked into the ride.[82][83][84] The goose died, and Lanzoni descended the ride with blood on his face[79][76] possibly from a nasal injury.[79] Multiple reporters alleged that Lanzoni was hit in the face by a goose.[85] The video that remains is filmed from the ride entrance.[76] There was an on-ride camera, but Lanzoni claims the camera was never found.[78] Lanzoni's injury required 3 stitches on his nose.[77][78] Some sources claim the incident represented a paradigm shift in Lanzoni's career.[77][78] On The Morning Show in 2021, Lanzoni clarified the situation:

Actually, the bird hit the camera, and a piece of the metal of the camera flew and cut the bridge of [my] nose. And that was a miracle. But...they were afraid of me suing Budweiser, and so they blamed it on a bird. But actually the bird hit the camera. The bird never hit my face...I was very fortunate, very lucky because I needed one stitch.[11]

Personal life Edit

In 1989, Lanzoni began a relationship with an unidentified girlfriend; they broke up four years later in 1993.[50]

In a 1993 People interview, at the age of 34, Lanzoni condemned the idea of plastic surgery:

I'm gonna keep developing something inside. That way, when I'm 60, I'm not gonna be one of those people who try all the plastic surgery and be ridiculous. I'm gonna say, "I expressed myself. And now I'm a happy man."[5]

Regarding his diet, Lanzoni avoids cheese,[10] sweets,[86] salt, caffeine,[87] alcohol, and drugs.[86] He also reduces exposure to the sun.[10] He has stated that a body should be treated "like a Lamborghini."[87] His go-to dinner cuisine is Japanese food, particularly sushi rolls,[88] although he has praised Italian cuisine, calling it "among the best-loved foods in the world" and "among the most nutritious."[8] In 2016, describing his unique diet to Sports Illustrated,[14] Lanzoni stated,

In the morning I get up, I have my oatmeal, I have, always, an egg whites omelet, sometimes with spinach, sometimes with asparagus, sometimes with tomatoes or mushrooms. I cook it with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. I always do. I've been using it for 20 years. For lunch, I normally have cod or sea bass or salmon with some vegetables. And at night, the same, usually fish with vegetables.[14][86]

In 2015, Lanzoni stated he goes to the gym for 60 minutes at least four times a week, engaging in aerobics and weight training.[13] He also jogs, hikes, and does motocross enduro.[13] As of 2015, he owns about 325 motorbikes; when The Washington Post asked Lanzoni why he collected so many, he responded, "There's 365 days in a year."[15]

In a 2016 Sports Illustrated interview, when asked how people could be more romantic in their everyday lives, Lanzoni advised, "Just be yourself. Just be the best of yourself."[14]

Lanzoni became a U.S. citizen in 2016.[89] He celebrated the citizenship afterward with friends.[14]

In 2021, Fabio said he was retired and hoping to marry and have children. He also said he sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber because he believes it reverses aging.[17] He described his potential partner to People the same year:[90]

Someone with a beautiful soul, great sense of humor...I want a woman that can do sports and can be a little bit tomboy.[90]

Filmography Edit

Year Film Role Notes
1990 The Exorcist III Angel Uncredited
1991 Scenes from a Mall Handsome Man
The Hard Way Bar Patron/Bouncer Uncredited
1992 Death Becomes Her Lisle's Bodyguard
1996 Eddie Himself Cameo
Spy Hard Himself Cameo
2000 Dude, Where's My Car? Himself Cameo
2001 Zoolander Himself Cameo
Bubble Boy Gil/Cult Leader Cameo
2010 Big Time Christmas Himself TV movie
2011 Hollywood Sex Wars Himself Cameo
2014 Dumbbells Himself
2015 Knight of Cups Himself
2017 Sharknado 5: Global Swarming The Pope
Year Title Role Notes
1993 Acapulco H.E.A.T. Claudio/Hotel owner
1993 Roseanne Himself Episode: "Guilt by Imagination" (Season 6, Ep.8)
1995 Bobby's World Himself (voice) Cameo
Episode: "Hooked on Caps" (Season 6, Ep.3)
1995 Eek! The Cat Himself (voice) 2 episodes
1998 Late Night with Conan O'Brien Himself Episode: "Fabio/Vicki Lewis/Deftones" (Season 5, Ep. 128)
1997 Step by Step Himself Episode: "Absolutely Fabio" (Season 6, Ep.11)
1997 The Weird Al Show Himself Episode: "Al Plays Hooky" (Season 1, Ep.9)
2002 The Bold and the Beautiful Himself Guest role; 2002, 2003, 2012
2003 High Chaparall Himself One episode, Swedish TV-show.
2003 Yes, Dear Himself One episode (Season 4, Ep. 21)
2005 Mr. Romance Himself/host
Bo! In the USA Himself 2 episodes
America's Next Top Model Himself One episode
2007 Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide Himself Episode: "Positives and Negatives"
2009 Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory Himself One episode
2010 Big Time Rush Himself 3 episodes
The Suite Life on Deck Captain Hawk Episode: "Senior Ditch Day"
2010 Keith Lemon's World Tour Himself One episode
2011 Cupcake Wars Himself One episode
2012 Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory Himself, Fabulous Fabio One episode
2013 Lemon La Vida Loca Himself One episode
2014 Almost Royal Himself One episode
2014 The Birthday Boys Edmund One episode, Sketch: "The Wrong Sperm"
2020 Robot Chicken Himself (voice) Episode: "Endgame"
Music video
Year Title Role Notes
1995 I Kissed a Girl Jill Sobule music video
2019 Miss You In My Sheets Himself Trisha Paytas music video

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