The Malta Independent 20 November 2017, Monday

Actor Paolo Villaggio, of Fantozzi fame, dies in Rome

Monday, 3 July 2017, 07:52 Last update: about 6 months ago

Italian actor Paolo Villaggio, famous for the Fantozzi character he created, has died in Rome this morning.

He was 84.

Villaggio was born in Genoa in 1932 and throughout his long career interpreted various roles such as Professor Kranz and Gioandomenico Fracchia.

But he will be always remembered for the role of Ragioniere Ugo Fantozzi, a character who was always at the wrong end of the stick and faced numerous humiliations.

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Villaggio is also the author of eight books related to the Fantozzi character.

He had also taken part in films directed by Federico Fellini, Marco Ferreri, Lina Wertmüller, Ermanno Olmi and Mario Monicelli. 

Paolo Villaggio was born with a twin brother, Piero. His father was Ettore Villaggio (1905–1992), originally from Palermo. His mother, Maria, originally from Venice, was a language teacher.

Villaggio attended the classic school "Liceo ginnasio Andrea Doria" and initially studied Law, but did not complete his degree. His jobs included being a clerk for the Italsider steel works, which inspired his Fantozzi character. Villaggio was hired for the TV programme Quelli della domenica (Those guys of Sunday), in which Fantozzi made his first appearance, later also introducing his other characters, the aggressive "Professor Kranz" and the hypocritical "Giandomenico Fracchia".

After his television experience, Villaggio started writing short stories for the magazines L'Espresso and l'Europeo, featuring Fantozzi, a man with a weak character, dogged by misfortune. In 1971 the publishing house Rizzoli released the book Fantozzi, a collection of these stories, which sold over a million copies. The first book led to his 1975 appearance in the film Fantozzi. The film's success led to a sequel, Il secondo tragico Fantozzi, and later to six other films featuring the character.

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