The showbiz nickname of the suave, debonair, Italian born Renzo Cesana who was the focus of the romantic program simply called THE CONTINENTAL/CBS/ABC/1952-53.
The Continental was a video gigolo whose job was to “woo” bored housewives with 15-minutes of intriguing conversation (one-sided as it was).
Looking into the camera lens, this eager to please well-mannered Italian lover talked in a husky voice to his female viewers and offered them cigarettes, cocktails, or a comfortable chair. And when it was over the Continental hopefully left them wanting for more.
Note: During a 1952 episode of THE RED SKELTON SHOW, host Red Skelton donned a smoking jacking and with a bottle of bubbly spoofed The Continental. Here is the introduction to that sketch from the program:
“Justifiably popular on the television airwaves these days is a certain charming man of the world who addresses his intimate remarks directly to the ladies. Red Skelton now offers — and it’s all in fun — his impression of this glamorous gentleman.”
This series later inspired 1950s comedian, Ernie Kovac to do a parody called “The County-Nental” about a country-bumpkin gigolo who wore overalls, and poured moonshine from a jug. Whereas Renzo Cesana would say, “Don’t be afraid, darling, you’re in a man’s apartment,” The County-Nental would look into the camera lens and with whisky-soaked breath say, “Don’t be feared, this is only a man’s silo.”
Both comedian Billy Crystal and later actor Christopher Walken revived this romantic character on a skits written for NBC’s SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE in the 1980s & 1990s.