Marcello Mastroianni, known as 'Latin Lover,' dies
December 19, 1996
Web posted at: 9:00 p.m. EST
PARIS (CNN) -- Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni, who
escaped from a Nazi labor camp during World War II and later
became known for his roles as a harried "Latin lover," died
Thursday at his Paris home. He was 72.
Italian state television reported that French actress
Catherine Deneuve was at his bedside when he died, along
with their 24-year-old daughter, Chiara. Mastroianni had been
suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Since his screen debut in 1947, Mastroianni starred in more
than 120 films, won two best actor awards at Cannes and was
nominated for three Oscars. During his much-heralded
career, Mastroianni starred in feature films alongside
Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Yves Montand and Jack Lemmon.
It was Mastroianni's role as a womanizing tabloid reporter in
the 1960 film "La Dolce Vita" that won him worldwide
The humble Mastroianni once told an American television
audience, "I am not a sex addict." He told interviewers that
director Federico Fellini hired him for "La Dolce Vita"
because he had a "terribly ordinary face."
But despite his pleas, film audiences thought of him as the
"Latin Lover" -- a reputation that
was fueled in part by his real-life affair with Deneuve.
Despite that relationship, Mastroianni remained married to Flora
Carabella for some 45 years.
From small-time to big-time
Born the son of a carpenter on September 18, 1924,
Mastroianni spent his early years near Rome. As a child, he
had a sampling of stage roles at his parish church. But by
the time he was 14, his father forced him to abandon his
formal schooling and go to work.
In the late 1930s, Mastroianni held odd jobs in Rome,
occasionally getting small parts in movies. During World War
II, while he was working as a draftsman, German soldiers
forced him to work at a labor camp in northern Italy.
But he escaped, and lived in wartime poverty in Venice until
1945. In the years following the war, he returned to Rome and
worked as a clerk with a British film distribution company
during the day and practiced acting in the evening with a
group of university students.
"I made theater very important in the beginning of my
career," he once said. "Theater actors like to change
roles. They don't like to always do the same thing."
Mastroianni's first lead film role was in an Italian
production of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" in 1947. With
"Three Girls From Rome" (1952), he began to be known abroad.
"La Dolce Vita" was the beginning of a partnership with
Fellini that brought him lead roles in "8 1/2" (1963), in
which he co-starred with Anouk Aimee as a movie director
dreaming of his ideal woman; "City of Women" (1979), and
"Ginger and Fred" (1985), which cast him as an elderly tap
dancer remembering his youth.
After his success in "Divorce Italian Style," Mastroianni
toured the United States. He told interviewers that all over
the country, fans had greeted him with the same sardonic
facial twitch he had displayed in the film.
Mastroianni formed a winning screen couple with Sophia Loren,
co-starring with her in 10 films in which they came to
symbolize the common Italian man and woman -- married or in
love. Their first success together was in "Marriage Italian
Style" (1964), followed by "Sunflowers" (1969), "The Priest's
Wife" (1970), and "A Special Day" (1977).
Loren once described their symbiosis: "These kind of things
are really magic in movies. I think it doesn't happen very
often, but me and Marcello (had it) since the beginning."
Correspondent Ron Tank contributed to this report.
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