Popularly known as Albertone, Alberto Sordi was one of the most popular Italian actor and film directors. One of the icons of the post war Italian cinema, Sordi captivated audiences with his satires, which included black comedies, grim drama and farcical tales. A recipient of Golden Globe Award, Sordi was also the voice of Oliver Hardy in the Italian version of the ‘Laurel and Hardy’ films. He received the training for theatre in Milan. Later, he returned to Rome and worked in radio and musical halls in comedy shows. His first leading role was in the film ‘The Three Pilots’. He was credited for creating several popular characters like ‘Signor Coso’, ‘Mario Pio’ and ‘Conte Claro’. He was renowned for his ability to represent despicable characters on screen. With his brilliant acting, he made all of these characters appear believable. For his noteworthy contribution to Italian cinema, on his 80th birthday, he was nominated as the honorary mayor of the city of Rome for a day. He was a long time partner of actress Andreina Pagnani. In his long film career, he acted in around 190 films. Some of these films are still considered as valuable asset in the history of Italian cinema.
Childhood & Early Life
Born in Rome to a musician and a schoolteacher, Sordi enrolled himself in Milan’s dramatic art academy, but was expelled due to his Roman accent, which later proved to be a trademark and blessing for him.
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He started his film career in the late 1930s, by playing secondary characters in wartime movies. After the war was over, he worked as a dubber for the Italian version of ‘Laurel and Hardy’ shorts where he voiced as Hardy.
In 1948, he pursued a career at the Radio where he started the program ‘Vi parla Alberto Sordi’. As part of this program, he created some popular characters that appeared in some of his famous films later.
In 1951, he acted in the lead role for the film ‘Mamma Mia, Che Impressione’ (‘Dear me, what a fright’). The story of this film was written by him. Later, his meeting with Fedeico Fellini was a turning point in his film career.
In 1952, he acted in ‘The White Sheik’. In the next year, he represented the character of a weak and immature loafer in ‘I vitelloni’. In the film ‘The Bachelor’, he portrayed the role of a single man in search of his love.
In 1959, he acted in ‘The Great War’, a comedy film, which according to many critics and film historians was one of the best Italian comedies. He also acted in the World War II comedy ‘The Best of Enemies’ with actor David Niven.
His acting skills in comedy film ‘I complessi’ in 1965, earned him critical acclaim as an actor. In the same year, another of his film ‘To Bed or Not to Bed’ was released. He gained much popularity for his stellar performance in this comedy film.
In 1969, he became a member of the jury at the 6th Moscow International Film Festival. He was also remarkable in dramatic roles. In 1977, he acted in ‘An Average Little Man’ in which he played an elderly who sets out to take revenge as he has lost his son in an armed robbery.
In 1984, he directed and co-scripted the film ‘Off to jail, everybody’. He also acted in the film, and played the role of a judge who has warrants for corruption served on ministers and businessmen.
His film ‘In Prison Awaiting Trial’, released in 1971, was an Italian drama film, for which he won the Silver Bear for Best Actor award in the 22nd Berlin International Film Festival. In it he played the role of an emigrant convicted unjustly.
His film ‘The Scientific Cardplayer’, released in 1972, was an Italian drama film under the direction of Luigi Comencini. In this film, he played the role of a sub-proletarian engaged in endless card games.
Awards & Achievements
He received a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his film ‘II diavolo’, released in 1963. This award brought him wide recognition by the Hollywood Foreign Press.
Personal Life & Legacy
Being a loner, he enjoyed a quiet life with his dogs and his two sisters. He announced his retirement in 2002, and used to stay in a villa situated near the Caracalla Baths.
He passed away shortly before his eighty-third birthday as a result of a heart attack. A huge crowd attended his funeral ceremony by the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
Less than a week after the death of this multi talented personality, the mayor of Rome renamed one of the main central gallery streets after him to honor his memory.