Don Shirley and Tony Lip: The True Story Behind Their Friendship

Dec 14, 2018 703

In 1962, casually racist Italian-American bouncer Tony "Lip" Vallelonga and Don Shirley, a gifted Jamaican-American musician, had very little in common — yet a road trip through the South led to these two becoming friends. The movie Green Book, which was co-written by Lip's son, Nick Vallelonga, is about this life-changing journey.

The movie draws on recordings of Lip, as well as conversations Nick had with his father and Shirley. However, the filmmakers did not consult with members of Shirley's family; his brother, Maurice, told the radio show 1A he won't see the film as he feels it's "full of lies." With this controversy and the fact that many movies make narrative choices that can leave facts behind, it may be hard to know what to believe about their relationship. To better understand it, here are some insights into the true story behind this friendship.

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