TV celebrity pays surprise visit to GVSU

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When Italian language student Beth Murawsky chose to write about actor Tony Danza as the Italian-American she most admires, she didn't realize it would get her a surprise visitor and a free trip to Rome. In fact, the entire class will join her. Visiting professor Gisella Gisolo, who teaches the Italian II class, gave the assignment for the students' final oral presentations.

Murawsky contacted producers from Tony Danza's television talk show to obtain photos and background about his career for her presentation. What she didn't know, is that the producers then contacted her professor to arrange a surprise visit to the class.

On Wednesday afternoon, within minutes of Murawsky beginning her oral presentation -- in Italian of course -- Danza, dressed in a GVSU sweatshirt, entered the classroom saying he heard she was talking about him and joked that he wanted to be sure she was accurate.

Her surprised reaction was captured by Danza's film crew as were the stunned looks on classmates' faces when they heard from another classroom guest, Steve Perillo. He came to announce that his travel company, Perillo Tours, was providing a free trip to Rome for the entire class of 19 students and professor Gisolo.

The classroom episode will be shown as part of The Tony Danza Show on May 4 and Danza's trip to Grand Valley was mentioned on his show on April 21. The show airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on WOOD-TV 8.

Danza spoke briefly with the class about his Italian heritage and asked students about theirs. He stressed how important it is to learn about our ethnic culture and pass it on to future generations.

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