New South Oakland sign honors Warhol, Marino, Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino and Dan Marino hold up a sign dedicated to them in 2016. (TPN File Photo)

Andy Warhol’s renowned pop art might be housed in a museum across the river, but he got his start in Oakland.

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, about 40 people joined Mayor Bill Peduto at the intersection of Dawson and Swinburne Streets in South Oakland as he recognized Warhol and two other Pittsburgh greats by re-dedicating a sign in their honor.

Members of the community dedicated a sign to NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino and Warhol about 25 years ago, but the updated sign now includes former heavyweight champion and retired professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino. All three Pittsburghers grew up in the South Oakland neighborhood.

“If you think about it, there are probably few places on Earth where within a few blocks three people rose from three fields to become internationally known,” Peduto said.

The updated sign, which reads “Welcome to South Oakland, childhood home of Dan Marino, Andy Warhol and Bruno Sammartino,” is 4 feet wide and 2 feet tall. The City placed a second sign with the same message in the park between Juliet and Bates St. on Boulevard of the Allies.

The City paid for the materials of both signs, which altogether cost about $200. City employees volunteered to make the signs, according to the City’s Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald spoke after Peduto about Marino, Sammartino and Warhol’s impact on the city that raised them.

“It’s a great day for Pittsburgh,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re very proud of these three individuals.”

Larry Richert, KDKA Radio Morning News host and the husband of Dan Marino’s sister Cindi, emceed the dedication ceremony.

Sammartino lived in South Oakland after moving to Pittsburgh from Pizzoferrato, Italy, in 1950. He attended Schenley High School before it closed down in 2008.

Sammartino went on to become a professional wrestler from the 1960s through the mid-1980s. He held the World Wide Wrestling Federation — now known as World Wrestling Entertainment — heavyweight championship title for more than 11 years. Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted Sammartino into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 6, 2013.

“All I can say is I’m deeply honored,” Sammartino said. “To be honored here makes it that much more special.”

Members of the Warhola family, including Warhol’s nephew Marty Warhola, attended the sign dedication ceremony in honor of Andy. Before becoming known for his pop art, Warhol grew up on Dawson Street, and graduated from Schenley High School in 1945. Warhol passed away on February 22, 1987.

“The only thing I could think of that [Warhol] would say is ‘fabulous,’” Marty Warhola said about how his uncle would respond to the ceremony.

Marino, who graduated from Pitt in 1982, grew up on South Oakland’s Parkview Avenue and attended Central Catholic High School before rising to fame as the quarterback of the Miami Dolphins. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

“For me, it’s a great honor to be on this sign here at the top of the street,” Marino said. “I’m very proud of the neighborhood and being a part of it.”

For Marino, adding Sammartino’s name to the sign made perfect sense.

“I remember my dad always saying, ‘why don’t they have Bruno’s name on the sign?’” Marino said. “So today, we took care of that.”

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