Italy Mourns Actor Alberto Sordi

Sordi with Federico Fellini & wife Giulietta Masina

by Nicole Martinelli

A tide of emotion swept through Rome today when 250,000 people said a last good-bye to Alberto Sordi, one of Italy’s most beloved comic actors. Sordi died Monday night of bronchitis in Rome at age 82. Thousands of Romans passed by his villa in piazza Numa Pompilio to leave flowers and notes and or visited the open coffin to pay respects for two nights in a row. The funeral, attended by luminaries and everyday folk, had to be moved to the larger Basilica of San Giovanni to hold the crowds.

Like many Italian actors, he started his career with dubbing. He gave a quirky accent to Oliver Hardy in the Laurel & Hardy comedies and then went on to lend voice to a young Marcello Mastroianni. Sordi graduated to acting with Federico Fellini, first starring as the “White Sheik” in 1952 then as an overgrown adolescent in “I Vitelloni” a year later.

Sordi, nicknamed “Albertone Nazionale,” racked up more than 190 performances as an Italian everyman — whether he played a policeman (“Il Vigile”), a taxidriver (“Il Tassinaro,” “Il Tassinaro a New York”) an Italian who emigrates (“Bello, onesto, emigrato Australia sposerebbe compaesana illibata”) or one obsessed with America (“Un Americano a Roma”). Long considered an icon, he put in an amusing cameo as himself in Fellini’s “Roma,” and won numerous awards including the Golden Career Lion from the Venice Film Festival in 1995.

“Alberto’s death is one of the saddest events of my life,” said Sophia Loren who acted in ‘Two Nights with Cleopatra’ with Sordi in 1954. “We were very good friends, even though we didn’t get the chance to work together as much as we would’ve liked.”

After co-writing many of his films, Sordi put himself behind the camera as director in “Fumo di Londra,” in the mid 1960s and kept acting and directing until recently with “Incontri Proibiti” in 1998 where he played opposite blonde starlet Valeria Marini.
On his 80th birthday, Albertone was named honorary mayor for a day in Rome. Current Mayor Walter Veltroni had this to say about him,”It’s a great loss for our city and out country. Both Romans and Italians will miss the artist who, above all others, knew how to interpret with intelligence and love the full spectrum of life and the contradictions of society. Personally, I’ll miss a friend that I had come to love before I was lucky enough to know and spend time with.”@1999-2008

Related resources:
Sordi’s official site — film clips, photos, sound bites…

The White Sheik

1 thought on “Italy Mourns Actor Alberto Sordi

  1. albertone has made me laugh so much, thank you for this good piece on him.

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