Frankie Tartaglia

Frankie Tartaglia, In Memoriam Frankie Tartaglia

Philadelphia mourns the loss of Connie’s Ric Rac Frankie Tartaglia, who passed away at age 45. 

South Philadelphia and the whole of the Philly film and music industry were rocked on Monday at the news that Frankie Tartaglia, the co-owner operator of the late, great Connie’s Ric Rac venue and the co-director-writer behind the just released Philly Film Festival flick, Not for Nothing passed away, suddenly, at age 45.

Frankie’s memorial is Friday, Dec. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Pennsylvania Burial Company funeral home at 1327 Broad Street, and on Saturday afternoon from 12 to 3 p.m. at Casa Mexico at 1132 South 9th Street. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

Frankie was a comedian, a musician, a chameleon, a raconteur, a charmer, a cad, and a real and genuine character – a genuine scion of the Italian Market as his dad ran stalls along the lower half of Ninth Street and his mom operated her ric rac shop at the top of the Market’s upper half. 

If you did not hear Frankie playing as part of his comic punk ensemble the Discount Heroes, you were witness to him telling stories that turned into stand-up bits or other film projects of his such as Punctuality. Frankie was quick to tell you that he had been making jokes since he was a kid, professionally at HBO and America’s Funniest People and MTV comedy show.

In what was probably his last interview on October 19, Frankie talked to me about releasing his first major film into the world, Not for Nothing, and made sure I knew that the film was written with love, and modeled after so many of our neighbors. 

“We never intended to actually make this film ourselves,” Frankie told me. “We only intended on writing a script together. Once we realized that we couldn’t sell our script without a literally agent, we realized we had to figure out a way to make it, or it would just wind up on a shelf in a basement and eventually turn into dust. But to answer your question, we made it up. The main characters are all based on real people I have encountered in my many years living as a south Philly guido. Tim (Dowlin) wanted us to write a modern day italian American mafia movie that took place in South Philadelphia. I was interested in telling a story that involved these Italian American characters but without them being a on mafia assholes. I also didn’t want greed to be the motivation to set the characters into action. Eventually, after many discussions and thinking we came upon the idea of the girl who O’D’s on fentanyl and a gang of neighborhood guys who try to solve her suspicious death. Once we had that, we built the rest of the story around that. Essentially, we both love Scorsese films and decided to make one. Not For Nothing is basically a reboot of Mean Streets crossed with the Magnificent 7.”

Frankie Tartaglia was magnificent.

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