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Vittorio Gassman Knight Grand Cross OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [vitˈtɔːrjo ˈɡazman]; born Gassmann; 1 September 1922 – 29 June 2000), popularly known as Il Mattatore, was an Italian actor, director and screenwriter.
He is considered one of the greatest Italian actors, whose career includes both important productions as well as dozens of divertissements.
He was born in Genoa to a German father, Heinrich Gassmann (an engineer from Karlsruhe), and a Pisan Jewish mother, Luisa Ambron. While still very young he moved to Rome, where he studied at the Silvio D'Amico National Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Gassman suffered from bipolar disorder.
Gassman's debut was in Milan, in 1942, with Alda Borelli in Niccodemi's La Nemica (theatre). He then moved to Rome and acted at the Teatro Eliseo joining Tino Carraro and Ernesto Calindri in a team that remained famous for some time; with them he acted in a range of plays from bourgeois comedy to sophisticated intellectual theatre. In 1946, he made his film debut in Preludio d'amore, while only one year later he appeared in five films. In 1948 he played in Riso amaro.
It was with Luchino Visconti's company that Gassman achieved his mature successes, together with Paolo Stoppa, Rina Morelli and Paola Borboni. He played Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' Un tram che si chiama desiderio (A Streetcar Named Desire), as well as in Come vi piace (As You Like It) by Shakespeare and Oreste (by Vittorio Alfieri). He joined the Teatro Nazionale with Tommaso Salvini, Massimo Girotti, Arnoldo Foà to create a successful Peer Gynt (by Henrik Ibsen). With Luigi Squarzina in 1952 he co-founded and co-directed the Teatro d'Arte Italiano, producing the first complete version of Hamlet in Italy, followed by rare works such as Seneca's Thyestes and Aeschylus's The Persians.
In 1956 Gassman played the title role in a production of Othello. He was so well received by his acting in the television series entitled Il Mattatore (Spotlight Chaser) that "Il Mattatore" became the nickname that accompanied him for the rest of his life. Gassman's debut in the commedia all'italiana genre was rather accidental, in Mario Monicelli's I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street, 1958). Famous movies featuring Gassman include: Il sorpasso (1962), La Grande Guerra (1962), I mostri (1963), L'Armata Brancaleone (1966), Profumo di donna (1974) and C'eravamo tanto amati (1974).
He directed Adelchi, a lesser-known work by Alessandro Manzoni. Gassman brought this production to half a million spectators, crossing Italy with his Teatro Popolare Itinerante (a newer edition of the famous Carro di Tespi). His productions have included many of the famous authors and playwrights of the 20th century, with repeated returns to the classics of Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky and the Greek tragicians. He also founded a theatre school in Florence (Bottega Teatrale di Firenze), which educated many of the more talented actors of the current generation of Italian thespians.
In cinema, he worked frequently both in Italy and abroad. He met and fell in love with American actress Shelley Winters while she was touring Europe with fiancé Farley Granger. When Winters was forced to return to Hollywood to fulfill contractual obligations, he followed her there and married her. With his natural charisma and his fluency in English he scored a number of roles in Hollywood, including Rhapsody with Elizabeth Taylor and The Glass Wall before returning to Italy and the theatre.
In the 1990s he took part in the popular Rai 3 TV show Tunnel in which he very formally and "seriously"' recited documents such as utility bills, yellow pages and similar trivial texts, such as washing instructions for a wool sweater or cookies ingredients. He rendered them with the same professional skill that made him famous while reciting Dante's Divine Comedy.
In 1994, Gassman voiced Mufasa in the Italian dubbed version of The Lion King. Gassman's voice was redubbed in several of his films by historical Italian actors and dubbers which include Emilio Cigoli, Sandro Ruffini, Gualtiero De Angelis, Stefano Sibaldi, Enrico Maria Salerno and Pino Locchi.
Gassman married three times, all to actresses: Nora Ricci (with whom he had Paola, an actress and wife of Ugo Pagliai); Shelley Winters (mother of his daughter Vittoria); and Diletta D'Andrea (mother of his son Jacopo).
While rehearsing Hamlet, he began an affair with Anna Maria Ferrero, his 16-year-old Ophelia, which ended his marriage to Winters. He and Winters were forced to work together on Mambo just as their marriage was unraveling, providing fodder for tabloids all over the world.
From 1964 to 1968 he was the partner of French actress Juliette Mayniel (mother of his son Alessandro, also an actor). Through Alessandro, he is the grandfather of singer-songwriter Leo Gassmann.
On 29 June 2000, Gassman died of a heart attack in his sleep at his home in Rome at the age of 77. He was buried at Campo Verano.
Vittorio Gassman in Bitter Rice
Gassman in War and Peace
Gassman in L'armata Brancaleone
- Incontro con Laura (1945)
- The Captain's Daughter (1947) as Svabrin
- Preludio d'amore (Love Prelude, 1947) as Davide
- Le avventure di Pinocchio (The Adventures of Pinocchio, 1947) as The Green Fisherman
- Daniele Cortis (1947) as Daniele Cortis
- L'ebreo errante (The Wandering Jew, 1948) as Mathieu Nahum / Mathieu Blumenthal
- Il cavaliere misterioso (The Mysterious Rider, 1948) as Giacomo Casanova, cavaliere di Seingalt
- Riso amaro (Bitter Rice, 1949) as Walter
- Una voce nel tuo cuore (1949) as Paolo Baldini
- The Wolf of the Sila (1949) as Pietro Campolo
- Ho sognato il paradiso (Streets of Sorrow, 1950) as Giorgio
- I fuorilegge, (The Outlaws, 1950) as Turi
- Lo sparviero del Nilo (Hawk of the Nile, 1950) as Yussuf
- Il leone di Amalfi (The Lion of Amalfi, 1950) as Mauro
- Il tradimento (Double Cross, 1951) as Renato Salvi
- La corona negra (1951) as Mauricio
- Anna (1951) as Vittorio
- The Dream of Zorro (1952) as Don Antonio / Juan
- Girls Marked Danger (1952) as Michele
- The Glass Wall (1953) as Peter Kaban
- Sombrero (1953) as Alejandro Castillo
- Cry of the Hunted (1953) as Jory
- Rhapsody (1954) as Paul Bronte
- Mambo (1954) as Mario Rossi
- La donna più bella del mondo (1955) as Prince Sergei
- The Violent Patriot (1956) as Giovanni de Medici dalle Bande Nere
- War and Peace (1956) as Anatol Kuragin
- Difendo il mio amore (1956) as Giovanni Marchi
- Kean: Genius or Scoundrel (1957) as Edmund Kean
- I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street, 1958) as Peppe il pantera
- La ragazza del palio (1958) as Piero di Montalcino
- La tempesta (1958) as Prosecutor
- The Great War (1959) as Giovanni Busacca
- The Miracle (1959) as Guido
- La cambiale (1959) as Michele
- Le sorprese dell'amore (1959) as The Schoolteacher (uncredited)
- Audace colpo dei soliti ignoti (Hold-up à la milanaise, 1959) as Peppe er pantera
- Il Mattatore (1960) as Gerardo Latini
- Crimen (Killing in Monte Carlo, 1960) as Remo Capretti
- Fantasmi a Roma (Ghosts of Rome, 1961) as Giovanni Battista Villari, aka 'il Caparra'
- A Difficult Life (1961) as Himself (uncredited)
- The Last Judgement (1961) as Cimino
- I briganti italiani (1961) as O Caporale
- Barabbas (1961) as Sahak
- Anima nera (1962) as Adriano Zucchelli
- Il giorno più corto (1962)
- Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life, 1962) as Bruno Cortona
- La Marcia su Roma (March on Rome, 1962) as Domenico Rocchetti
- L'amore difficile (Sex Can Be Difficult, 1962) as L'avvocato (segment "L'avaro")
- La Smania addosso (1963) as Giorgio Mazzanò - lawyer
- Il Successo (1963) as Giulio Ceriani
- I Mostri (1963) as The Actor (segment "La Raccomandazione") / Policeman (segment "Il Mostro") / Production Assistant & Movie Director (segment "Presa dalla Vita") / Nicola (segment "Che Vitaccia!") / Blonde Latin Lover (segment "Latin Lovers-Amanti latini") / Defence Layer D'Amore (segment "Testimone volontario") / Richetto (segment "I due Orfanelli") / Roberto (segment "Il Sacrificato") / Elisa (segment "La Musa") / The Road Hog (segment "La Strada è di Tutti") / The Friar (segment "Il Testamento di Francesco") / Artemio Altidori (segment "La nobile Arte")
- Frenesia dell'estate (1964) as Captain Mario Nardoni
- Se permettete parliamo di donne (Let's Talk About Women, 1964) as Stranger / Practical Joker / Client / Lover / Impatient Lover / Waiter / Timid Brother / Ragman / Prisoner
- Il Gaucho (1964) as Marco Ravicchio
- La Congiuntura (Hard Time for Princes, 1965) as Giuliano
- The Dirty Game (1965) as Perego / Ferrari (French)
- Slalom (1965) as Lucio Ridolfi
- Una Vergine per il Principe (Virgin for the Prince, 1966) as Principe don vincenzo gonzaga
- L'Armata Brancaleone (1966) as Brancaleone da Norcia
- Le piacevoli notti (1966) as Bastiano da Sangallo
- The Devil in Love (L'arcidiavolo, 1966) as Belfagor
- Il Tigre (1967) as Francesco Vincenzini
- Sette Volte Donna (Woman Times Seven, 1967) as Cenci (segment "Two Against One")
- Questi fantasmi (Ghosts – Italian Style, 1968) as Pasquale Lojacono
- Lo scatenato (1968) as Bob Chiaramonte
- Il Profeta (1968) as Pietro Breccia
- La pecora nera (The Black Sheep, 1968) as Mario Agasti / Filippo Agasti
- L'Alibi (Alibi, 1969) as Vittorio
- Dove vai tutta nuda? (Where Are You Going All Naked?, 1969) as Rufus Conforti
- Una su 13 (The 13 Chairs, 1969) as Mario Beretti
- L'Arcangelo (1969) as Furio Bertuccia
- Contestazione generale (1970) as Riccardo
- The Divorce (1970) as Leonardo Nenci
- Brancaleone alle Crociate (Brancaleone at the Crusades, 1970) as Brancaleone da Norcia
- Scipione detto anche l'africano (Scipio the African, 1971) as Catone il Censore
- In nome del popolo italiano (1971) as Lorenzo Santenocito
- Senza famiglia, nullatenenti cercano affetto (1972) as Armando Zavanatti
- L'udienza (The Audience, 1972) as Principe Donati
- Che c'entriamo noi con la rivoluzione? (1972) as Guido Guidi
- La Tosca (1973) as Scarpia
- Profumo di donna (Scent of a Woman, 1974) as Il capitano Fausto Consolo
- C'eravamo tanto amati (We All Loved Each Other So Much, 1974) as Gianni Perego
- A mezzanotte va la ronda del piacere (Midnight Pleasures, 1975) as Andrea Sansoni
- Telefoni bianchi (1976) as Franco Denza
- Come una rosa al naso (Pure as a Lily, 1976) as Anthony M. Wilson
- Signore e signori, buonanotte (1976) as CIA agent / Tuttumpezzo
- The Desert of the Tartars (The Desert of the Tartars, 1976) as Colonel Giovanbattista Filimore
- Anima persa (The Forbidden Room, 1977) as Fabio Stolz
- I nuovi mostri (Via l'Italia!, 1977) as Il cardinale (segment "Tantum ergo") / Il cameriere (segment "Hostaria") / Il marito (segment "Sequestro di persona cara") / Il commissario (segment "Il sospetto") / Il padre di famiglia (segment "Cittadino esemplare")
- A Wedding (1978) as Luigi Corelli
- Quintet (1979) as St. Christopher
- Caro papà (Dear Father, 1979) as Albino Millozza
- Due pezzi di pane (Happy Hobos, 1979) as Pippo Mifà
- Sono fotogenico (1980) as Himself (uncredited)
- La terrazza (The Terrace, 1980) as Mario
- The Nude Bomb (1980) as Sauvage / Nino Salvatori Sebastiani
- Camera d'albergo (Chambre d'hôtel, 1981) as Achille Mengaroni
- Il Turno (1981) as Ciro Coppa
- Sharky's Machine (1981) as Albert Scarelli / Victor D'Anton
- Di padre in figlio (1982) as Himself
- Tempest (1982) as Alonzo
- Il Conte Tacchia (Count Tacchia, 1982) as Prince Torquato Terenzi
- La Vie est un roman (Life Is a Bed of Roses, 1983) as Walter Guarini
- Benvenuta (1983) as Livio Carpi
- Paradigma (Power of Evil, 1985) as Gottfried
- I Soliti ignoti vent'anni dopo (Big Deal After 20 Years, 1985) as Peppe il pantera
- La Famiglia (The Family, 1987) as Carlo, as a man / Carlo's grandfather
- I Picari (1987) as Marchese Felipe de Aragona
- Mortacci (1989) as Domenico
- Lo zio indegno (1989) as Uncle Luca
- Dimenticare Palermo (1990) as Il Principe
- Tolgo il disturbo (1990) as Augusto Scribani
- Les 1001 Nuits (1990) as Sinbad
- I Divertimenti della vita privata (The Amusements of Private Life, 1990) as Marquis
- Rossini! Rossini! (1991) as Ludwig van Beethoven (uncredited)
- El Largo invierno (1992) as Claudio
- When We Were Repressed (1992) as The Sexologist
- Abraham (1993, TV series) as Terah
- Tutti gli anni una volta l'anno (1994) as Giuseppe
- Sleepers (1996) as Benny 'King Benny'
- Deserto di fuoco (1997, TV Series) as Tarek
- Un homme digne de confiance (1997) as Adriano Venturi
- La cena (1998) as Maestro Pezzullo
- La bomba (1999) as Don Vito Bracalone
- Luchino Visconti (1999) as Himself
- Luca de' Numeri. Novel, in 1947 won the Fogazzaro prize, published in 1965 (ed. Lerici)
- Un grande avvenire dietro le spalle. Milan, (1981). Longanesi & C.
- Vocalizzi. Milan, (1988). Longanesi & C.
- Memorie del sottoscala. Milan, (1990). Longanesi & C.
- CL 0426 – Antologia moderna – Ungaretti, Cardarelli, Palazzeschi, Montale, Quasimodo.
- CL 0401 – Dante Alighieri – Inferno canto quinto.
- CL 0437 – Dante Alighieri – Inferno canto XXVI.
- CL 0402 – Dante Alighieri – Paradiso canto XXXIII.
- CL 0457 – Elogio Olimpico – Poesie sportive.
- CL 0459 – Eschilo – Coefore – with Valentina Fortunato and Maria Fabbri.
- CL 0438 – Foscolo – Sepolcri.
- CL 0439 – Leopardi – Poesie
- CL 0440 – Leopardi – Poesie.
- CL 0458 – Manzoni – Adelchi, with Carlo D'Angelo.
- CL 0414 – Manzoni – Promessi sposi.
- CL 0416 – Manzoni – Il cinque maggio.
- CL 0441 – Mistici del '200.
- CL 0470 – Pascarella – Sonetti.
- CL 0417 – Pascoli – Poesie.
- CL 0420 – Saba – Poesie.
- CL 0415 – Shakespeare – Amleto.
- CL 0427 – Sonetti attraverso i secoli.
- CL 0443 – Gassman nel Mattatore prose varie.
- CL 0444 – Gassman nel Mattatore prose varie.
- CLV 0604 – Shakespeare – Otello.
- CLV 0607 – Irma la dolce.
- CLV 0609 – Gassman – Il Mattatore prose varie.