BY ALBERT AMATEAU | Helen Libutti, known for years as “The Zeppole Lady” because she sold the delicacy at the San Gennaro and St. Anthony festivals in Greenwich Village, died Nov. 22 at the age of 91.
Born and raised in the Village, she was for the last four months of her life in a Long Island nursing home, where she died, according to her daughter Jacqueline Malki.
“My mother was very lively and stylish. She was a Miss Subways in the 1940s, but her real claim to fame was ‘The Zeppole Lady,’ ” her daughter said. “She even had a couple of scenes in the Dom DeLuise movie ‘Fatso’ selling zeppole.”
Born to Jack and Susan Comora, Helen attended elementary school at St. Peter’s School on Barclay St. The family was living on Spring St.
“Her father was a dockworker and her mother was a cleaning lady. Her brother was a dockworker, too,” Malki said.
“She was married in St. Peter’s twice, the first time to Fortunato Scordino, who died in a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1957. I was 2 years old. Later, my mother got married to Donato Libutti, a friend of my father’s. They both had been in the Army,” Malki said. She added, “The story goes that my father heard while he was in the Army that my mother was dating a dentist, so [Libutti] went AWOL to marry her.”
Donato Libutti, known as Frankie, died in 2009.
“My mother was a waitress but she didn’t work much, except for the zeppole,” Malki added. “But she took care of my son, Adam, and never missed a day.”
Perazzo Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker St., was in charge of arrangements. The funeral was at Our Lady of Pompeii Church, at Carmine and Bleecker Sts. Her burial was in Calverton National Cemetery, Long Island, next to her husband.