Little Women/ Where Is The Italian Laurie?

little women podcast
3 min readAug 10, 2022


We have been chatting here a lot about how Friedrich has never been played by a German actor in a major Little Women adaptation.

I was curious to see what is the case with Laurie? where is the Italian-American Laurie

Italians have lots of variety when it comes to skin colour. Usually, people in northern Italy have a light brown skin tone and people in southern Italy have a darker brown skin tone.

In Little Women, it is mentioned that Laurie has brown skin when he moves to Concord he is very isolated. He doesn´t really know his grandfather and you get a sense that he doesn´t really have other boys of his own age his friends to play with, and then Jo comes and Jo is almost as good as a boy, and she gives him that maternal care that his orphan soul is seeking.

Anyway, that he has a darker skin contributes to that he struggles to fit into Concord and there are several mentions in the novel of how he wants to connect with those Italian roots that he has, and I can see that being important to him since he didn´t really know his mother and perhaps his mother came from Sicily or Calabria or some other region from Southern Italy.

Here are all the nationalities of men who have played Laurie

Douglas Montgomery — 1933.- American with English ancestry

Peter Lawford -1949 — English (born in London)

Stephen Turner — 1970 — English

Richard Gilliland — 1978 — American with English ancestry

Christian Bale — 1994 — English

Jonah Hauer-King — 2017 — English with Polish ancestry

Lucas Grabeel — 2018 — American with English and German ancestry

Timothee Chalamet — 2019 — American with English and French ancestry

You know how sometimes people make very racist comments on professor Bhaer being German (hello Greta Gerwig) and people are like Laurie is more suitable for Jo because he is American, could this has something to do with these actor choices? Look at this list, none of these actors is Italian-Americans, and neither have brown skin.

When it comes to Little Women adaptations the only main actor who has had brown skin has been Rossano Brazzi in the 1949 Little Women and he played professor Bhaer (+ he was Italian).

100 years of Hollywood whitewashing Laurie.

Italians, like all European peoples, are racially Caucasian or “white.” However, especially in the mid to late 19th century, Italian immigrants to America were often met with racial prejudice.

As they came mainly from Southern Italy, they had typical Mediterranean features, with a darker complexion than most Americans, who came from Anglo-Saxon countries.

News clippings from the late 19th century often described Italians derogatorily, and it wasn’t uncommon, to use a modern expression, racially profiling them as rough and prone to crime. They were seen as “clannish,” unwilling to assimilate to the larger population and more interested in living in their own exclusive, culturally closed communities. They were often described as “swarthy,” with frizzy air and derisively called “Guinea” in the streets

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little women podcast

Illustrator, writer and folklorist. Likes cats, tea and period dramas. A host of the Little Women Podcast.