Italian pioneering comic actress, Franca Valeri, died

Italian pioneering comic actress, Franca Valeri, died
Franca Valeri, one of the greatest Italian theatre, television and cinema actress, died Sunday in Rome nine days after her 100th birthday. Valeri will be honored with a wake Monday at Argentina Theatre in the Italian capital, while funeral will take place in private.

Beloved by Italians, especially for her roles in the 1950s to the 1970s, first on radio, then on TV and in movies, Valeri was a sophisticated, intelligent comic interpreter of post-war Italian society and often wrote the scripts or monologues for her performances, especially on stage. Signature roles featured comic scenes in which she appeared solo, holding a phone, real or imaginary, including as “Signorina Snob,” a role for which she drew upon her Milanese bourgeois roots.

After decades in which comic roles in Italy were virtually the exclusive province of men, Valeri held her own against top male comic actors, starring against Toto’ and Alberto Sordi. Of the six films she made with Sordi, arguably her most popular role came in “Il Vedovo” (The Widower), a 1959 hit directed by Dino Risi, a master of Italian comedy films. She also worked with many of Italian directors, including Federico Fellini and Mario Monicelli.

The President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella sent a condolence message, praising Valeri as a “versatile and popular actress who will remain in the hearts of Italians for her great talent and her extraordinary likability.