Born and raised in Far Rockaway, New York on July 30th 1931, passed away on March 14, 2015
Robert X. Modica has always had a powerful bond and friendship with his older brother Frank, a highly respected Agent representing some of America's greatest musical artists. Frank Modica was an athlete, trumpet player, band leader, U.S. Army Veteran, Adelphi College graduate and father of three. He was recently discussed at length in a new biography of Harry James . For 30 years, Frank Modica has represented many well-known musicians including Dave Brubeck, the brilliant jazz pianist. "My brother Frank is, and has been, one of the heroes of my life because of his integrity, perseverance, intelligence, talent, imagination, common sense and humanity. These are virtues that everyone - and certainly actors - should strive for and be encouraged to develop in themselves. Roberts X. Modica's Father, also named Frank was born in Palermo, Sicily, in a family where for five generations the men entered the honorable calling of policeman (many decades later, his grandson, Robert X. Modica, Jr., became a policeman in Malverne, Long Island, where he received the Policeman of the Year Award in 1997). But this was not to be for Roberts father. Instead Roberts father opted to start a new life, by following his dream of America. "When I think of what it must have been like for a young man to go against not only what his family expected and assumed would be the course of his life, but that he would also leave them, his home, his Sicily to follow his dream of America. It's not unlike what often happens when a son or daughter express a desire to pursue acting."
"With that dream in his heart, alone with no family to greet him, he sailed across the sea to this land of the lady from France with her torch welcoming all who wanted America, and to give something back to that America. So he came, he struggled to learn its language, and worked hard to build a life in a land that opened its arms to him. And when America entered WWI, he enlisted in the Army to serve his adopted country."Roberts father returned from WWI unscathed, to a grateful nation and the little town of Far Rockaway where each man, in addition to Government awarded medals, was awarded a special medal by the citizens of the Rockaways. The inscription read: To one who served the nation with Honor in the World's Great War 1917-1918." This man, this father, this Veteran, this proud citizen of hi adopted country, who, at parades when the Flag came by, was the only time he let go of his little son's hands so he could salute that grand old Flag. "Looking up at my father as the flag passed, I always saw tears in his eyes. In Shakespeare's, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony- standing over the body of Brutus - proclaims...'This was a man, when comes another.' In all things, this fits the man who was my Father. He was a man of respect, possessed of character, a true sense of dignity and honor. A man with great humanity, who loved his wife and sons. A man who loved to laugh and dance. A man who loved America, served her out of a grateful heart, a man with dreams who worked to make those dreams a reality with all the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to do that. And he always supported and encouraged our dreams. At crucial times in our lives when we were tempted to give up, my father was always there reminding us to reach deep down and find the strength to fight and not give up the struggle to reach for the stars.""How deeply this applies to the struggles of all those who feel the calling to act, for it must be known that the demands are great to be the best actor that's in you to be. It's a wondrous journey of discovery and joy...but it's also damn hard work."
Roberts MotherSoon after his return from France, Robert's father met and married his mother. Jeanette was a feisty little lady with a zest for life and an indomitable spirit - the combination of which, helped her face the hardships of the 1930's. They became a team: He, the beloved town barber, and she, the town beauty parlor operator, working together in one shop, a shop brimming with the shared secrets, worries, joys, births, deaths, laughter and tears of a small town.
"I loved being around all this humanity...and the music. My father loved opera. Great operatic voices were always in the background. I was twice blessed for also having a warm and supportive mother never ending in her love and encouragement throughout my own trials, tribulations and adventures. When I close my eyes, I can still see them together in that shop, still hear the chatter and the music, still smell the unguents and pomades. Still feel the love."During those early years, Robert X. Modica attended P.S. 104, Mount Saint Joseph's Military Academy in Newburgh, New York, Saint Mary's Star of the Sea, and the Maryknoll jr. Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts where he studied for the priesthood. Inspired by the life of the great missionary priest, Saint Francis Xavier, Robert felt calling to join the missions in the Far East. his teachers at Maryknoll were experienced missionaries but they were also men of respect, intelligence and strength- all of which did not preclude a sense of humor.As time went on however, Robert began to question his vocation and ultimately felt he had to leave. If it was meant to be, he would know it and return. There is an old adage..."many are called but few are chosen."Returning home, he entered Far Rockaway High School and, following in his brothers footsteps, played Varsity Football becoming Captain in his Senior year. And what a small world. That year they won the Queens Championship by defeating John Adams High School and the team that John and nick Turturro's uncle Tony played for.