Personal Background & Early Career
Rosalini attended Highland Park High School in the Chicago Northshore suburb of Highland Park, IL, was its first student to create his own independent study course (architectural drafting), received varsity letters and all-state recognition in baseball and football and was a Norte Dame Club of Chicago ‘Knute Rockne Award’ nominee, but turned down the college football offers because of lasting memories of badly bruised ribs.
Rosalini attended the University of Iowa on loans where, by the time freshman fall arrived, he decided to play football as a ‘walk-on,’ but after a week of punishment wisely decided to walk off and sell programs for the games instead.
Rosalini pursued the University’s Bachelor of General Studies degree program—a customized, liberal arts curriculum on steroids that for Dugan included economics, engineering descriptive geometry, urban and regional planning, philosophy, piano, law, several areas of design (graphic, architectural, industrial and interior) along with sculpture in the School of Fine Arts, and eventually a course he had to use a dictionary in order to choose: Introduction to Cinematography. He worked part-time for the Med School’s video unit, and by his senior year had earned semester hours credit by passing a College Board (CLEP) test in chemistry, teaching a fellow student how to swim, and being an assistant instructor for Television Production 101.
Earliest Film Employment
Rosalini’s first film job was as an editor and all-around production assistant for Goldberg-Werrenrath Productions, a small, Chicago-area company headed by a husband and wife team, producing a broad range of nationally-distributed, classroom educational films serving grades K–12, and founded by one of the handful of pioneering creators of American television, Reinald Werrenrath, Jr. This was the pivotal opportunity that began a life-long career for Rosalini, and it wasn’t just a job: like his father, grandfather, high-school football coach, and college design professor, Reinald Werrenrath was (and remains) an important role model and mentor. (See Footnote below.)
Following this first job, Rosalini worked freelance in Chicago and New York City in practically every below-the-line production role known to film production (from ‘gofer,’ dolly grip, mike boom operator, and assistant cameraman to unit production manager, second-unit cameraman, and hand model) for documentaries, medical training films, TV commercials, PBS shows (e.g., American Masters) and low-budget features, in locations like the basement morgue of Bellevue Hospital, the catacombs of Fort Jay on Governors Island, aboard WWII-vintage submarines berthed in historic Brooklyn Navy Yard, and in a McDonald’s for a training film on making Egg McMuffins.
After those stints, Rosalini took a year sabbatical from film to work on a farm back in Iowa and take a crack at teaching Title I elementary school classes, before moving back to Chicago to become a staff editor and segment lead-in director for ‘The American Outdoors.’ The show was a nationally-syndicated television series about every outdoor sport and recreation imaginable, hosted by naturalist, adventurer and former outdoor editor for the Denver Post, Wally Taber. There, he also directed, edited, and co-wrote the theatrical featurette, ‘The Restless Spirit,’ which was distributed as a double-bill show along with the company’s East African feature, ‘The Elephant Poachers,’ In this job he earned enough to (proudly) repay his college loans, in full.
First Independent Film as Company Startup
At age 25, Rosalini launched his own shop, Dugan Rosalini Film Associates, with his first independent film: the hour-long documentary ‘Otto: Zoo Gorilla,’ a primetime national Public Television special made at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.
The film received high audience ratings and was recognized with more than a dozen honors, including an Emmy nomination and invitation to the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar. Subsequently, he made a total of 8 films in association with Lincoln Park Zoo, including 5 for television broadcast and two serving as AV centerpieces for capital campaigns totaling nearly $250 million.
For a portfolio of Rosalini’s work, additional background information, and client/sponsor recommendations, see www.RosaliniFilms.com
Non-career Interests & Pursuits
• Restored/remodeled two condo apartments; his mother’s home; a Chicago landmark house; and a 40-foot, 1983 trawler yacht powered by twin Ford diesels…
• Served on Little City Foundation’s Board of Advisors; is a Life Member of Lincoln Park Zoological Society; currently on the neighborhood civic committee, Francis Parker Neighbors.
• Pitched in to help raise as surrogate father a total of 4 wonderful children of two wonderful women, and rescued, raised, and for 14 years shared life with a 12-pound, female canine named ‘Kiddo’…
• Played a lifetime of amateur baseball until reaching the 50th-consecutive-year mark, including college ball, a semi-pro national touring team during his 20’s, and being named to the ASA’s 1998 40-and-Over All-American Team.
• Member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and has attended more than a dozen of the EAA’s international AirVenture events…
• For 5+ years and until her (recent) passing, cared for and made road trips with his spirited and ever-curious mother …
• Continues to enjoy the travel, history and cultural adventures of filmmaking, not to mention the ‘thrill rides’ of being launched and recovered on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower…
Childhood & Name “Dugan”
Dugan Rosalini came into this world in Highland Park, Illinois, as Adolph John Rosalini, Jr., the first-born child of electric utility lineman and former World War II combat infantryman, Adolph John (“Doc”) Rosalini, Sr. (here), and homemaker/part-time country club waitress, Betty Calzia Rosalini (here). It was the post-War 1950’s, and because of Highland Park’s large Jewish community, little “Adolph” like his father needed a nickname in a hurry. He’s been “Dugan” ever since he could swallow solid food.
As a child, Dugan threw rocks, played Little League, became a Cub Scout, built Estes model rockets, and attended public school. His immediate family shared a duplex home with his maternal grandparents. He’d spend a few weeks ‘downstate’ each summer in a tiny, former coal-mining town, living with his maternal great grandparents, who as turn-of-the-century immigrants from Northern Italy, spoke only broken English, cared for their huge garden and the chickens, crushed their own grapes for wine, and made out just fine with an outhouse.
His uncle Pete would take him squirrel hunting every fall, and in the summer fishing with his cousins in their homebuilt boat. Sledding with his brother, sister, and the family collie was winter fun, but wooden skis without metal edges were not. His mother signed him up for weekly, torturous accordion lessons, and his dad—a member of an amateur dance band—encouraged him to one day do the same with a set of drums.
In grammar-school and junior-high library periods, he’d spend the entire hour either immersed in outdoor magazines and Boy’s Life, or day-dreaming about how to spend every hour of his life out of school—exploring, catching crayfish, and building forts in the meadows, marshes and timber of a 300-acre abandoned farm, located a stone’s throw from his home. Every day of his childhood was another National Geographic expedition.
At age 12, and having the back seat of a Chevy Impala all to himself, he embarked on a summer road trip with his grandparents on the venerable, two-lane Lincoln Highway to San Francisco, and then along the coast to L.A. and San Diego and back home again in what became the big, pivotal, personality-shaping event of his life.
Employment-wise, Dugan got himself fired earlier that same summer—and at two different golf clubs as an ambitious, but obviously under-aged, caddy. After failing at carrying huge golf bags for a second year, and as his physical stature grew, he learned the fine arts of being a dishwasher, busboy, gas-pump jockey, pizza deliveryman, and union ditch digger for the gas company—making enough money to buy sharkskin pants, a 100-mph racing go-kart (yes, 100 miles per hour!), tanks of gas for dad’s car and a date or two, but then started to stow it away for walking money during his college years.
A final, notable credit is that somehow along the way Dugan stayed just enough out of trouble to also earn the sacraments of Holy Communion and then Confirmation. Adopting for this the saint’s name, “Michael,” the Vatican has known him ever since as “Adolph John Michael ‘Dugan’ Rosalini, Jr.
Reinald Werrenrath, Jr. - Dugan’s first film employer and a major mentor
Born and raised in the Bronx, and working in the 1930’s as tour guide at the NBC radio studios in Rockefeller Center’s RCA Building, young Werrenrath was introduced to the handful of pioneering engineers and earliest content creators busily at work in the company’s basement laboratories, inventing a new form of communications and entertainment: television.
Werrenrath, with his boss Bill Eddy, moved to Chicago to begin building a television station owned by the movie theater chain, Balaban & Katz. A year later, World War II interrupted Werrenrath’s career, when he served in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet as Fighter Director Officer on the USS Cabot, employing a new technology known as “radar,” and earning the rank of Lieutenant Commander and two Bronze Stars with combat “V”.
Following the War, Werrenrath (affectionately tagged “Werry” by his co-workers) returned to Chicago to finish building the television station W9XBK, which, after several evolutions, is today’s ABC network-owned and -operated WLS. Once on the air, Werry produced and directed dozens of ground-breaking shows such as ‘Chicago Cubs Baseball,’ the Emmy award-winning ‘Ding Dong School’ with Our Miss Francis, and one of the network’s first live remote programs, ‘Zoo Parade,’ which was broadcast weekly from Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, featured host Marlin Perkins, and would later become the hugely popular, ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.’
After having his career interrupted again by U.S. Navy service, but this time in the Korean War, Werry spent the majority of his long and productive television career creating additional, first-time-ever programming, and in the early 1970s with his wife, Betty, started their own company, Goldberg-Werrenrath, producer of educational films.
Werry was recently honored as a Television Academy Silver Circle inductee, and at age 104, remains equally active and on-the-ball with Betty (105).