Roberto Benigni

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Roberto Remigio Benigni, Knight Grand Cross OMRI[1] (born 27 October 1952) is an Italian actor, comedian, screenwriter and director of film, theatre and television.


Early years

Benigni was born in Manciano La Misericordia, (a frazione of Castiglion Fiorentino), Italy, the son of Isolina Papini, a fabric inspector, and Remigio Benigni, a bricklayer, carpenter, and farmer.[2] He was raised Catholic and served as an altar boy.[3][4] His first experiences as a theatre actor took place in 1971, in Prato. During that autumn he moved to Rome where he took part in some experimental theatre shows, some of which he also directed. In 1975, Benigni had his first theatrical success with Cioni Mario di Gaspare fu Giulia, written by Giuseppe Bertolucci.

Benigni became famous in Italy in the 1970s for a shocking TV series called Onda Libera, on RAI2, by Renzo Arbore, in which he interpreted the satirical piece "anthem of the melt body" (L'inno del corpo sciolto, a hymn to defecation).[citation needed] A great scandal for the time, the series was suspended due to censorship. His first film was 1977's Berlinguer ti voglio bene, also by Giuseppe Bertolucci.

Afterwards, he appeared during a public political demonstration by the Italian Communist Party, with which he was a sympathiser, and on this occasion he took in his arms and dangled the national leader Enrico Berlinguer, a very serious figure. It was an unprecedented act, given that until that moment Italian politicians were proverbially serious and formal. It represented a breaking point, after which politicians experimented with newer habits and "public manners", attended fewer formal events and, generally speaking, modified their lifestyle in order to exhibit a more popular behaviour. Benigni was censored again in the 1980s for calling the Pope John Paul II something impolite during an important live TV show ("Wojtylaccio", meaning "Bad Wojtyla" in Italian).

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