Here in the United States, Italian actor and director Rossano Brazzi is usually remembered as the star of such American film classics as South Pacific, Summertime and Three Coins In The Fountain. What we don’t always realize is just how truly international and extensive his career was.
He was a hugely popular stage and screen actor in his native Italy for well over a decade before his first American film, considered at a very early age to be one of the best and brightest young stars of the Italian theater. He then astonished critics and public alike, at the age of twenty-four, with his electric film portrayal of a middle aged Edmund Kean in Dumas’ Kean, and delivered a critically acclaimed and award-winning performance in the Italian film classic Noi Vivi/Addio Kira (“We The Living/ Goodbye Kira”) two years later.
He starred in twenty-four films before arriving in the United States in 1949 for his first film (Little Women), among them Tosca, as Mario Cavaradossi, I due Foscari as the young Jacopo Foscari, Una donna dell’ovest (“Girl of the Golden West”), which was the first Italian western ever made, and the enormously popular Aquila nera (“Black Eagle”) series. He made films in France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Great Britain. He starred in several popular telenovelas and TV movies in Italy and at least two European (and one American) television series. In his 55-year career, he acted in (and/or directed) over 230 films, as well as maintaining a presence in Italy as an accomplished stage actor.
Website Under Construction – and an Explanation
For those who noticed that the website hasn’t been updated in … quite a while: there is a rather pitiful backstory. The entire Brazzi library – and by that I mean all of the videos, the photographs, the memorabilia, the collectables were in my home. I made the mistake of sharing my home with a woman who turned out to be a chronic thief, con-artist and habitual liar, but I was too gullible to be aware of how evil she truly was. In any event, I made the fatal mistake of deciding to return to college to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, and was only gone for a few months before all of the bills and credit card fraud she’d been hiding from me suddenly started cropping up. (And all that time I had thought she was just being nice, running to pick up the mail every day!) Believe me it was a such a scam we’re talking six figures worth of fraud and theft and grand larceny. More relevantly, she then decided to try to steal the house in my absence (it didn’t work), but needless to say, the bulk of the Brazzi material I once had (along with everything else I owned) now falls in the legal category of “Grand Theft”, and we are in the process of trying to retrive all of the stolen materials. There was also a delay in pursuing that criminal activity when I was a victim of a bus accident and had to undergo spinal fusion surgery – and it’s been a slow recovery from that as well. A few other items of note: the “Film Index” (an index which lists all of his films by their various titles, based on the country of release), and the “Cast Index” (an index of all of his fellow cast members) are in the process of being created and may take a while. Lastly, all of the movies and films originally listed as being in the “VHS Library” are being upgraded to a “DVD Library” a film at a time (it’s an expensive process! – but hopefully, it will end up being as extensive as the VHS Library.)
Lastly, I’m aware that there are broken links and out-dated items of information – they’re being worked on and corrected as quickly as possible.
In 1992, Gregory Speck wrote a delightful book, Hollywood Royalty: Hepburn, Davis, Stewart and Friends at the Dinner Party of the Century (Birch Lane Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1992, ISBN 1-55972-150-2), in which he combined and arranged interviews with numerous actors and actresses of the 1930’s through the 1950’s, as discussions in an imaginary dinner party – Rossano being one of the honored guests. It isn’t until later that the reader realizes the interview from which Rossano’s contributions to this ‘dinner party’ are compiled would have taken place somewhere between 1987 at the earliest and 1991 at the latest:
“Sometimes I awake in the middle of the night and think to myself, “What is going on? Am I now forty-five? No, I remember being fifty-five. But then I can recall my sixty-fifth birthday. Oh, my God, I am over seventy years old!” That scares me. I can still play tennis well enough for three hours to beat the kids who are twenty years old. I played sports all my life, and might have won a gold medal at the Olympics, but age is catching up with me. Last year I got a call from the big impresario Bruno Campioni, who brought Frank Sinatra to Italy, and he wanted me to introduce some of my old friends from Hollywood at an awards presentation. They were Robert Mitchum, who was then about seventy, and Joseph Cotten, who was then maybe eighty-three, and Bette Davis, who was then eighty, and June Allyson, who is also about seventy. I know because I made two pictures with her, Little Women and Interlude. The fifth one was Glenn Ford, whom I will always remember as the man who made Gilda with Rita Hayworth. He was then in his early seventies, so when you added up all of our ages you got about five hundred.
Hollywood Royalty: Hepburn, Davis, Stewart and Friends at the Dinner Party of the Century, Gregory Speck, 1992
Some of his comments you’ve heard from him in other interviews – others are new and surprising: his discussion about Marilyn Monroe, about the night Lidia actually upstaged Joan Crawford, his nostalgia for the solidarity of old Hollwood (“in Italy there is nothing at all like this. There is no solidarity at all among Italian actors, because they all hate each other. It is rivalry and jealousy and competition, as opposed to a spirit of camaraderie. Maybe that no longer exists in Hollywood, either. I don’t know.”) – and the funny incident when he threatened Louella Parsons with the mafia (“Well, Louella, it really is better for you if you don’t write anything against me, for you see, I am Italian, and a mafioso, and I will cut your throat if you say anything about me that I don’t like,” I informed her over dinner. She started to shriek at the table when I said this, but she never dared write anything to embarrass or offend me.”) (And no, he had no Mafia connections – but Louella didn’t know that!)
Unfortunately, the Carol Publishing Group went belly-up in 1999, so we’re still trying to hunt down Gregory Speck for permission to reprint some of Rossano’s terrific interview quotes – in the meantime, the book may still be available used or in your local Library.
Some of you may know that Sid Avery died recently, and why that is sad news to a Brazzi fan is that Avery took some of the best photographs of Rossano you’re ever going to see. The Jimmy Durante photo was one of them; the great photo of Rossano and Sophia Loren at Rossano & Lidia’s home in Los Angeles, (below) and the party photograph with Mitzi Gaynor and husband Jack Bean have been used in other articles you’ve seen. Reuters wrote:
LOS ANGELES, July 8 – Celebrity photographer Sid Avery, who captured the Hollywood stars of the 1950s and 1960s in their private moments, has died of cancer at age 83, his family said Monday. Avery’s intimate photos of Marlon Brando eating breakfast, Humphrey Bogart reading at home with his son, and Rock Hudson fresh from the shower gave a movie-hungry public a glimpse of the “ordinary” lives of celebrities in an age when stars were cherished rather than chased.
While MSNBC reported:
“Sid Avery’s pictures represented the transition between the soft focus glamour shots of Hollywood’s golden age and the rise of intrusive paparazzi style photo-journalism.”
All three photos appear in the book, Hollywood at Home: A Family Album 1950-1965.
Parade Magazine, 1955
Added to the web site: the text and photos of a wonderful piece on his lovemaking techniques. (Keep in mind that this was written and photographed in the mid 1950’s when “lovemaking” meant something entirely different than it does today. Then, it meant, “getting a woman so weak in the knees and pliable that she might actually welcome a deep, soul-searching kiss”.) And, of course, no one was more skilled at this art than Rossano. This was from Parade Magazine and included some photographs he’d agreed to pose for, with French model Miriam Bru. Had to be one of the best jobs Miriam ever had – she appears to be more than pliable by the conclusion of the photo shoot. His verbal description of the process is also illuminating (“…I treat the girl as if no other woman existed. She is the object of my eyes, my heart, my worship …”), so if you can tear yourself away from the visuals, check out the text.
Picturegoer Magazine, 1955
Another article from Picturegoer dated March 5, 1955 comes right on the heels of The Barefoot Contessa – Summertime hasn’t even been released yet. If you’re a woman from anywhere except Italy, you will love his take on women outside of his native land … (well, he was being interviewed by the British Press, at the time – what else could he say?). Poor Rossano – as soon as he enthused about women in one part of the world, all of his fans from everywhere else were brokenhearted. From his perspective, this end of the business had to be one of the most nervewracking juggling acts in the world – and yet somehow he managed to please everyone, if by no other method than being photographed in a pair of rarely worn denim jeans and looking divinely rumpled and sexy in them. Whatever he did, it worked! Special thanks to Connie for sending in the magazine!
The SS United States, 1955
Also in the Library is an ad from January 1955 for the trans-Atlantic ocean liner, the S.S. United States. Rossano appeared in the ad as one of their repeat passengers – when this photo (left) was taken for the advertisement, he was, according to the caption, on his 9th crossing! The full text reads: “9th crossing. Italian film star Rossano Brazzi knows that traveling on the S.S. UNITED STATES is a vacation in itself. There are acres of deck space, a gym, swimming pool, three Meyer Davis orchestras, and first-run movies every night.” (Wonder if they ever showed any of his movies, while he was onboard?)
The fuller plot of “Per Amore, Per Magia” has also been added to the film page. There are also a few photos from the movie on the site, https://digilander.libero.it/morandissima/index3.htm, which is, of course, a web site dedicated to singer Gianni Morandi. Also in the film was another famous Italian singer (think of her as Italy’s Celine Dion of the 1950’s): Mina. Now – if we could only find a copy of the film!
For those unfamiliar with Gianni Morandi – if you ever get the chance to watch a video or listen to a CD, do so. He has by now attained almost legendary status in Italy and certainly in other countries as well – it is to our great detriment here in the United States and in other western nations, that we tend not to import non-English-speaking music, as it has prevented us from truly appreciating Morandi’s astounding career and talent. A true family man, he has also performed in films with his daughter Marianna, while his son Marco can be typically seen behind Dad on the concert stage, playing drums.
Two New Videos
Honeymoon with a Stranger can sometimes be found on E-Bay, so keep searching for it. Also found was the game show “People Are Funny”, with John Wayne, Sophia Loren and Rossano Brazzi, which obviously aired in conjunction with the release of “Legend of the Lost”.
Two New Appearances
Further information has come to light on two of his television appearances: La Vallee des Peupliers, which aired originally on 6 Jan 1986 on Canal 2, France ( the miniseries also aired in Germany as “Tycoon Valley”), and The Orient Express, which turns out to also be a Canal 2 miniseries of six episodes. Rossano’s episode first aired on December 14, 1979.
A little more of the plot of this brief series was revealed on the reverse of a photograph taken on the set. It appears that Rossano and Lana Turner played lovers who “discovered they are still in love, after being separated for 20 years”. Apparently, they both discovered this after trying to kill each other with sharp implements.
Two recent books of interest to those interested in the story behind “Tosca” are: Tosca’s Rome, by Susan Vandiver Nicassio, and Floria Tosca, by Paola Capriolo (translated from the Italian by Liz Heron). The first is concerned exclusively with the play and the opera, but is a wonderful source of the historical background of Rossano’s character Mario Cavarandossi. The second is a little unusual for some tastes and has little to do with his character at all. It is a woman’s perspective of the relationship between Floria Tosca and Baron Scarpia. A critic commented “The machanics and pleasures of the meeting between sadist and masochist have rarely been so elegantly handled as in the story of Tosca …” – this was, I’ll admit, the first time I’d looked at the story in quite that light, but came away from the book with a better understanding of the relationship between all of the characters.
Brazzi Fans’ Thoughts On …
I’ve been collecting various opinions on aspects of Rossano’s career and films that really didn’t fit on a specific movie page, but fell into the category of “General Discussions”. Best way to make those available to everyone was to create a separate section for them. It will take me a while to get them typed and uploaded … but to start off that section, here are:
- The Drama vs. the Melodrama
- The Concept of the “Latin Lover”
- Italian Phrases You’ll Need for your Next Trip to Italy (humor)“Ingiusta Condanna (1952)”
Is due to be re-released!! The rights to this film have been acquired by a distributor, but unfortunately, we can’t yet tell you by whom, or when, or in what format … but as it was released in the U.S. as “Guilt Is Not Mine”, I’ve been told it’s dubbed, unfortunately. When we have more information on this, you’ll be the first to know.”A Latin Lover Looks At American Women”
This article was found in the August 25, 1957 issue of “Family Weekly”, published out of Chicago. In this, Rossano claims that he and Lidia took a “motor trip” across the country, so that he could learn more about American women. They did take the motor trip – but the real reason was that Rossano hated flying. “Women-watching” was just one of the added attractions. Makes you wonder what the waitresses in Iowa rest stops thought when they looked up and found Rossano Brazzi standing there! The text and accompanying photos from this article can be found by clicking here.AutographsWe’ve come across some really interesting Rossano Brazzi autographs, either through autograph sellers, or sold by people on E-Bay and other sites … some of them actually his. To make it easier on those trying to ascertain if an autograph is genuine, we’ve collected a series of autographs we know to be his – for example, those provided by his family, and other great examples which match the first. Go to the autograph page for some examples.We’re also trying to collect samples of those autographs which were, in fact, signed by either Lidia or her father (who managed Rossano’s fan mail for a while, when it became simply too overwhelming for him to do it all himself) – so, if you have one, cheer up – at least it was signed by someone who lived with him!Fatal Frames Now AvailableThe DVD version of “Fotogrammi Mortali” (aka “Fatal Frames”) was available as of August 22nd via Amazon.com — while this isn’t – as you know – the best film Rossano ever made, it is his final one … you can read all about his involvement with the film on the Fatal Frames page, and you can order the film from Amazon.com.
More Films In The FilmographyWhat do Rossano Brazzi and Taster’s Choice coffee have in common? (And we don’t mean being stimulating to wake up with, in the morning!) The correct answer to that question would be “Anthony Head”. Head, currently known in the United States as a regular on “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” first gained notoriety as “the intriguing romantic lead in a dozen Taster’s Choice commercials, each tracing the budding romance between two neighbors who share a love for the same coffee.” Back in 1987, however, he co-starred with Rossano in yet another television movie in Italy we haven’t been able to find: “Devil’s Hill” (“La collina del diavolo”). If anyone has a copy of it, drop us a :Devil’s Hill (1987)
Television movie, 1987, Italy, directed by Vittorio Sindoni. Story by Nicola Badalucco. Produced by Massimo Saraceni. Shot on location in South America and Europe. Released as a 100-minute feature film and as a 4-episode miniseries. Also distributed in English. Other title: La Collina del Diavolo.
Cast: Anthony Head, Tony Musante, Iris Peynado, Francisco Rabal, Rossano Brazzi, and Oscar Colina.
L’elemento D (1984)
Also found on the IMDB for 1984, an Italian television film, “L’elemento D”, with Rossano listed as the only cast member thus far.
Anchi I ladri hanni un santo” (1981)
Perhaps the recent monumental success of Roberto Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful”, and everyone’s enchantment with the animated personality of Benigni himself, results in the re-release of some of his past films – among them, “Anchi I ladri hanni un santo” (1981). The English version of that would be, “Even Thieves Have a Patron Saint” … and according to the not always 100% accurate folks over at the Internet Movie Database, the cast of characters in that film were Roberto Benigni and Rossano Brazzi, the director was Giampiero Tartagni and the producer of the film was … Oscar Brazzi. What we wouldn’t give to find THAT movie … if it exists …. which it doesn’t, on Benigni’s filmography, anyway. If anyone can come to the bottom of that mystery, we’d be very grateful!Miscellany
Does anyone out there have a copy of — or ANY memorabilia from — the 1972-1973 Tony Awards??? Rossano was a presenter, and we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line at
Be sure and watch for re-runs of the American Movie Classics network’s “Real-to-Reel” series, when they air re-runs of a special documentary entitled “Hollywood Screen Tests, Take 1”. Among the screen tests discovered in 20th Century Fox film vaults is Christine Carere’s screen test for “A Certain Smile”. And, of course, assisting her in her screen test is Rossano, in some never-before-seen footage. The confusion begins when Rossano enthuses about the singing acoustics found in bathrooms, Christine is embarrassed by the public discussion of anyone doing anything in a bathroom, and, in the absense of a common language, together they almost set Italo-Franco relations back about 30 years … well, you’ll see what happens. Please do tune in — you’ll love it!We’re also proud to continue with Chapter Four of our ongoing “SERIAL” … translating a French storybook on one of his films and providing it in monthly segments with accompanying photos in a serial format … you’ll learn to hate those dreaded words, “to be continued!” …Strange Links
We’ve collected a few this month that you might find interesting … or not …You might not have known that “The Italian Job” has developed into quite a cult classic … with groups of fans of the film re-enacting the famous car chase between Italy and Great Britain. If you enjoyed the classic cars, as well as Rossano’s opening “blowing up the Miura” scene, you’ll enjoy the web site dedicated to The Italian Job.Greetings to Mombasa, Kenya! This was one of our favorite finds on the Internet – this is a web site that scans postcards so that you can send postcards to everyone you know, over the Internet – saving you the trouble of touring to a far-away location, buying a card, standing on line in a foreign post office for postage and then returning home long before your postcard does! At some point, this self-titled “tacky-postcard-mailing service” located a postcard with Rossano on it, and decided to do a little research on him. Which is how they found our web site. Their comments on the site itself are pretty funny: “I had no idea who this guy was when I first saw this card, but I knew he had to be important to merit that much photo- retouching. Later, it occurred to me that I really should find out who he is before including him in the Archive.” You should go check out the site, say “Hi!” and send a postcard to everyone you know. (And who said he had his photo re-touched?It seems that more than one actor has picked up their European accents by listening to Rossano’s voice. The first is a popular character (“Stefano”) on a daily soap opera; the second, it turns out, is Christopher Walken. Walken was interviewed recently, and described how he came by his accent. Check out the enjoyable Walken interview.Lastly, after receiving quite a few letters asking about recordings of the songs associated with Rossano’s movies, we’ve begun to do a little research on that very subject, and have found quite a few of them. Of course, we started with the easier songs, and it may take us a while before we find them ALL. Some of them might be surprising – did you know that The Temptations recorded “Some Enchanted Evening”? (Neither did we, until we found the recording!) It seems that lots of these songs have been recorded by numerous artists in numerous styles (jazz, pop, soul, country, classical, instrumental and Jamaican reggae, so far), so, no matter what your preference is, chances are you’ll find a version you’ll enjoy. Here are the songs we’ve located recordings of, so far:
Some Enchanted Evening
This Nearly Was Mine
Three Coins In The Fountain
Summertime in Venice
A Certain Smile
The information in this web page is provided by BRAZZI!, the official Rossano Brazzi International Network, sanctioned by the Brazzi family, and serving as his estate’s representative here in the United States.If you would like to contribute to this web site, we encourage anyone who has seen or enjoyed any of Rossano’s movies to add a review or a synopsis of your own (see the individual film pages for “Viewer Feedback”). For those with more … er … poetic tendencies, we offer you the opportunity to forget everything you ever learned about writing good poetry and join us in the on-going “World’s Worst Ode to Rossano Brazzi” contest, inspired by an anonymous American Brazzi-phile in the 1950’s. (Again, see the Newsletter 1995-1997 section!). Within a few months, by request, we’ll have merchandise for sale, as well. Anything else you might want to see in this one unified source of information on Rossano Brazzi, let us know. Researching his international career is an ongoing process, and we’re always delighted to hear from his fans, friends and peers with information to contribute and thoughts to share.
To search for Rossano’s movies on the Movies Unlimited website, click
Rossano Brazzi Movies