Born in Italy in 1920, Peter Savage (Francesco "Pete" Petrella) immigrated to America as a child in 1926 and grew up
on the harsh, crime-infested streets of the Depression-Era Bronx, New
York. He was a colorful and creative artist and business man whose difficult youth exposed him to the underside of society early in life and informed his later creative endeavors. As a wayward teenager, he joined forces with another young thug, Jake La Motta, and they forged a lifelong friendship - becoming partners in crime, boxing over 1,000 rounds together and ultimately collaborating on RAGING BULL.
Savage was a natural storyteller and student of human nature. After finding himself in prison as a young man, framed by jealous gangsters and an over-zealous district attorney, he picked himself up and started examining his life. He spent five years educating himself and fighting for his release, and his voracious reading led him to creative writing. His screenwriting career was born when he heard a moving performance of Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique," and based his first screenplay on that symphony. He would go on to pen another fifteen screenplays; write, direct, produce and act in almost ten films; and of course document his and Jake's lives with RAGING BULL, which he started writing in 1963.
While developing RAGING BULL, Savage created several independent films. One of his first, CAULIFLOWER CUPIDS, is a comedy starring Jane Russell, Alan Dale, Savage himself and six of his closest boxing buddies including Jake La Motta and Rocky Graziano. THE RUNAWAYS, Savage's first drama, is a dark, psychological WW II story dealing with PTSD that was shot in Italy and stars Savage, La Motta and Italian actress Teresa Pellati. These films are currently being digitally restored so they can be made available to the public in the near future.
Savage's daughter, Paula Petrella, is currently writing his life story, entitled "Roll With the Punches." It will detail Savage's history, his unique life challenges, and the unknown backstory as to how RAGING BULL came to be. He enjoyed using his life as a parable, and often said, "If I could do it, anybody can."
Savage died suddenly in 1981 and left a tremendous legacy which is finally being unveiled and preserved.