Vincent Ventola was born on May 26, 1948, to Sylvia and Vincent Ventola in Belleville, New Jersey, near the bustling ports of New York City. He had a sister, Cynthia, two years older, who he regarded as the “light of his eye”. As a boy, Vinny flourished, enjoying nature and the stars; and, as an indication of his budding talent, he painted a universe of stars and planets around the light fixture above his bed.
After attending public schools and a Catholic High School, Vincent went to Emerson College in 1966 and majored in playwriting. In his freshman year, he wrote and directed a vaudeville revue that was received with broad acclaim. A play and a musical of Vinny’s were also staged at Emerson, and he directed a production of an Edward Albee play in his senior year. Soon after his graduation, Vinny discovered two books at the same time; namely, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda and The Urantia Book. He moved to Los Angeles intending to become a monk at the Yogananda’s Self Realization Fellowship, only to find there was a seven-year waiting list. He completed reading The Urantia Book and became acquainted with Julia Fenderson, the West Coast Field Representative for the Urantia Foundation and a member of the original group of seventy readers prior to the publication of what was originally known as the “Urantia Papers”.
Returning to New Jersey, Vincent married his Emerson classmate, Cathie Browner, in 1973; and the happy couple moved to Santa Monica where they became friends with other readers of The Urantia Book and joined the First Urantia Society of Los Angeles. Encountering a woman who owned an art store, Vinny voiced his interest in learning to paint. When she told him to “just follow your own will to paint”, Vinny was elated and began to discover his latent talent. In pastel hues that were soft and vibrantly alive, he was already envisioning a new age that began to emerge in his paintings. Through The Urantia Book and a growing awareness of the beauty of the cosmos, this sensitive young man was seeking for higher meanings and values in an increasingly complex world.
In 1976, Vinny and Cathie moved to Arcata, California where they had close Urantia friends. In this beautiful natural setting on the Pacific coast, Vinny was inspired by the giant redwood forests that appear in his paintings from that period. Vincent was selected and given a grant, based upon his work and a written proposal, to paint a large mural on one entire wall of the Arcata swimming pool. He became friends with local and internationally acclaimed artist Morris Graves, who was drawn to Vincent’s work and was his mentor for a period of time. After a few years in northern California, Vincent and Cathie parted ways; and he returned to Los Angeles.
Embarking upon the final stage of his short life, Vincent met his future wife, Roseanne “Roxy” Allessandro. Roxy had a background in journalism and television production; and she won an Emmy award for a documentary, “Art Therapy”, in Los Angeles in 1978. When she and Vinny became partners, they joined the Screenwriters Guild; and they worked as staff writers for televison producer Norman Lear.
The final segment of the lives of Vincent and Roxy Ventola was the subject of a 1994 Lifetime TV movie, entitled And Then There Was One. This film portrayed the events that led to the deaths of Vinny and their infant daughter, Miranda Rose, who had made their life and happiness complete. When Miranda was less than a year old, her health began to fail. After medical examination and many tests, it was determined that this beloved child was infected with a new age disease; Miranda Rose was HIV positive. Upon further testing, their doctors found that both Roxy and Vincent were infected with the virus as well. As the tragedy played out in 1991, AIDs claimed Vinny first; and then, only a day later, Miranda. Only Roxy was left to tell the heart-rending story of her family. She became an AIDs activist, serving as President of the Board of Women at Risk, a support service for women with HIV/AIDs; a co-founding member of Women Alive; an active member of ACT UP/LA; and a founding member of Friends for Life, a support service for heterosexuals with HIV/AIDs. Toward the end of her own short life, Roxy was a consultant and producer for the film that was released a few months before her own departure in November of 1994.