Mario G. Salvadori
Weidlinger Associates Inc.
Salvadori was born in Rome, Italy in 1907. His father, Riccardo, an engineer who worked for the telephone company, became the chief engineer of the city of Genoa when the phone company merged with their French counterpart. Salvadori's father later became the head of the gas and electric company in Spain. His mother, Ermelinda Alatri, belonged to a rich Jewish family. Following his father's activities, Salvadori spent many years of his youth in Madrid and only returned to Italy in 1923. Two years later, when he was 18, he started what the first student jazz band in Italy; one of his youthful dreams was to become a concert conductor, although his parents did not encourage this. He was also a skillful mountain climber; he found several new climbing routes on Dolomites. He earned doctoral degrees in both civil engineering and mathematics from the University of Rome in 1930 and 1933, respectively. Then he served as an instructor at Engineering department of the University of Rome and as consultant for Istituto per le Applicazioni del Calcolo (INAC), directed by Mauro Picone, his mathematics teacher. Thanks to a grant, he went to London and in the next two years he did graduate research in photoelasticity at University College London, where he was in contact with Jews escaping from Nazi persecutions. Subsequently, when he returned to Rome, Salvadori was a convinced critic of the regime of Benito Mussolini, and was aware of the risks for his mother's family. In 1939, when Mussolini promulgated the Italian Racial Laws, Salvadori left Italy with his wife, who was also Jewish. At the same time he tried, with poor results, to convince his relatives to follow his example. It was difficult to leave Italy but in late 1938, he received a grant to study the first television experiments in the United States – his teacher and friend Enrico Fermi was an influential member of the examining commission. The grant allowed Salvadori and his wife to get a six months visa. While in the U.S., Salvadori stored some goods in a safe deposit box and left the key with Raymond D. Mindlin, whom he had met in New York a few months before, after a conference about the activities of Picone's institute. When he returned to Italy, he saw that there was no hope for a positive change in the political environment. The University of Rome and Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) stripped him of his positions. After this, he and his wife left Italy for good, using the same visa. On the same day he arrived in New York, the CNR restored him as a consultant to INAC, thanks to the influence of Picone.