This is the true godfather of all music videos. It is the first music video of short footage color film that was produced specifically to promote a song: the very first made for the public presentation of the Cinebox, that was a video juke-box built by Ottico Meccanica Italiana (Italian Optical Mechanics) in Rome. The song is entitled Altagracia, and the artist was Don Marino Barreto Junior (Matanzas 1925/Milano 1971), a Cuban singer who was very popular in Italy during the middle nineteen fifties.

Altagracia Cinebox Don Marino Barreto Jr

Altagracia is the name of his daughter, who we can see in the video while she is playing with puppets representing Bibì and Bibò, Captain Cocoricò, the Tordella who were cartoon characters who were loved by at least three generations of young children passionate readers of the illustrated weekly magazine called the Corriere dei piccoli.

Una striscia del Corriere dei Piccoli

The song Altagracia, was first found on an Extended Play 45rpm’s published by Philips Records in 1958 and later inspired the title of Don Barreto Junior’s first Italian LP that was released in two distinct versions: the first came out in 1959 and the second one in 1960 which included a few selected songs from the 1960 Sanremo Italian Song Festival and they were sung by Baretto.

Don Marino Barreto Junior EP, 1958

Don Marino Barreto Junior "Pasito de merengue", "Altagracia", "Octaviano", "Mi tajo" ( EP, 1958).

Don Marino Barreto Junior "Altagracia" (LP, 1959)

Don Marino Barreto Junior "Altagracia" (LP, 1959).

The video was filmed and assembled in November of 1958 in the studios of the Istituto Luce di Roma and was directed by Domenico Paolella (Foggia, 1915/Roma, 2002) who was the director of successful films like “Canzoni di mezzo secolo” (Half a Century of Songs) in 1952, “Canzoni, Canzoni, Canzoni” (Songs, Songs, Songs) in 1953, “Gran Varietà” (Grand Variety) in 1955, “Sanremo Canta” (Sanremo Sings) in 1956, “Non sono più guaglione” (I’m not a young kid anymore) in 1958. The film was developed in the Rome laboratories La Microstampa owned by Franco Iasiello.

Cinebox, The First News (published in the magazine Sorrisi e Canzoni, february 1959)

Cinebox, la prima notizia

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One of the very first articles about the Cinebox (published in the magazine La settimana Incom Illustrata, April 18, 1959)

article about the Cinebox in the magazine La settimana Incom Illustrata

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Nilla Pizzi madrina alla presentazione ufficiale del Cinebox, aprile 1959, Circolo della Stampa Romana

On 11th of April 1959, Circolo della Stampa Romana (The Press Club of Rome). Nilla Pizzi, was the Godmother at the official presentation to the public of the Cinebox. Next to her are the brothers Raffaello and Paolo Emilio Nistri, directors of the Ottico Meccanica Italiana (Italian Optical Mechanics). On the right (with glasses) Pietro Granelli, the inventor of the Cinebox. Granelli was born in Rome the on the 29th of June 1918. To his credentials, he has a series of inspired ideas and patents: he created a new type of illustrated sketched sequences with texts somewhat like a comic strip that told stories based upon contemporary current affairs. These became peek-out inserts in specialized periodicals. He also invented the Redi-Box, that in the edition of the 3rd of April 1960, of the weekly music magazine Sorrisi e Canzoni was described as a machine that is like a juke-box that allows you to listen to the latest hits and that actually sells and delivers a packaged record when coins were inserted into the appropriate slot on the juke-box. Fundamentally, he invented the Self Service Juke-Box. Pietro Granelli died in an automobile accident in the vicinity of Piacenza, Italy in 1975.