Sunday, March 31, 2024

Easter 2024


From the WAI! vault


Little Known Spaghetti Western Actors ~ Juan Diego Botto

[These daily posts will cover little known actors or people that have appeared in more recent films and TV series. Various degrees of information that I was able to find will be given and anything that you can add would be appreciated.]

Juan Diego Botto Rota was born in, Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 29, 1975. His father (a member of the Peronist Youth and Montoneros) was kidnapped and murdered in 1977 during the Argentine Dirty War. After his father’s death, he moved to Spain together with his mother (the actress and acting coach Cristina Rota [1945- ]) and older sister María Florencia Botto Rota [1974- ] in 1978. There, his little sister, Nur Al Levi [1979- ] was born. His sisters are both actresses. His mother taught acting classes out of their apartment, before creating her own academy.

He attended high school in New York and lived there for two years. Following early film

During the 1980s he played small roles in movies and appeared in the 1990 American television series ‘Zorro’. In 1992 he landed the role as the son of Christopher Columbus in the film “1492: Conquest of Paradise”, by Ridley Scott. Three years later he starred in the film “Stories from the Kronen”, by Montxo Armendáriz, in which he achieved great success and popularity. He landed a breakthrough role in the 1995 film “Stories from the Kronen”. He has since starred in films such as “Martín” (Hache) (1997), “Plenilune” (2000), “Broken Silence” (2001), “Obaba” (2005), “Go Away from Me” (2006) and “Ismael” (2013). He has also worked as a stage director and playwright and debuted as a film director with 2022 social drama-thriller “On the Fringe”.

He played General Presidente Silvio Luna in the 2021 DC Extended Universe film The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn.

Botto currently lives in Madrid with his wife, Spanish journalist and writer Olga Rodríguez [1975-]. They have a daughter, Salma [2009- ].

BOTTO, Juan Diego (Juan Diego Botto Rota) [8/29/1975, Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina -     ] – director, writer, film, TV actor, son of producer, writer, actress Cristina Rota (María Cristina Rota Fernández) [1945-    ], actor Diego Botto (Diego Fernando Botto Alduncín) [1949–1977], brother of writer, actress María Botto (María Botto Rota) [1974-    ], actress, singer Nur Levi (Nur Al Levi Rota) [1979-    ], cousin of the actor Alejandro Botto (Alejandro Jorge Botto) [1977-    ], married to journalist Olga Rodríguez (Olga Rodríguez Francisco) [1975-    ] (2017-    ) father of Salma Botto [2009- ].

Zorro the Legend Begins – 1989 (Felipe)

The New Zorro (TV) – 1990-1993 (Felipe)

Zorro: A Conspiracy of Blood – 1992 (Felipe)

Who Are Those Singers & Musicians ~ Little Tony


Antonio Ciacci was born in Tivoli, Lazio, Italy on February 7, 1941. He formed a rock and roll group with his two brothers, Alberto and Enrico, in 1957, naming himself Little Tony in emulation of Little Richard. The following year, the group were signed by Durium Records, who released a series of covers of American rock and roll songs by them in Italy.

In 1959, the Italian singer Marino Marini, when in London, recommended the group to TV pop show producer Jack Good. Good, visited Italy to meet the group, was impressed, and signed them up to appear in his British TV show ‘Boy Meets Girls’. They made their first appearance on the program in September 1959, and released their first single in the UK, "I Can't Help It" - the 11th single of their career in Italy - on the Decca label soon afterwards. For their third British single, Good recorded the group in London for the first time, and the resulting single, "Too Good", written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, reached # 19 on the UK singles chart in January 1960, their only chart success in Britain. The group continued to appear regularly on TV shows in Britain until 1962.

The group first revisited Italy in 1961 to appear at the Sanremo Festival when they performed the song "24.000 baci" with Adriano Celentano and finished second, returning more permanently the following year. Little Tony then worked as a solo singer, having his first #1 in Italy with "Il ragazzo col ciuffo" in 1962. He began working as a movie actor, appearing in over 20 movies in Italy, and becoming a star in the musicarelli film genre.

Tony can be heard singing the main theme song “Rainbow... vorrei... vorrei” in the 1968 Spaghetti western “Spara, Gringo, spara” (The Longest Hunt) starring Brian Kelly and Fabrizio Moroni.

Little Tony died of lung cancer on May 27, 2013, in Rome, at the age of 72.

LITTLE TONY (Antonio Ciacci) [2/7/1941, Tivoli, Lazio, Italy - 5/27/2013, Rome, Lazio, Italy (bone cancer)] – singer, actor, brother of actor, singer, musician Enrico Ciacci [1942-2018], actor, singer Alberto Ciacci [1948-2024], member of ‘Little Tony & His Brothers’, founded Little Records [1969], married to stewardess Giuliana Brugnoli [194? –1993] (1972-1993) father of singer Cristiana Ciacci [1974-    ], married to singer Luciana Manfra [1974-    ] (1999-2013).

The Longest Hunt – 1968 [sings “Rainbow... vorrei... vorrei”]

Special Birthdays

Tina Pica (actress) would have been 140 today but died in 1968.

Alexander Davion (actor) would have been 95 today but died in 2019.

Lee Patterson (actor) would have been 95 today but died in 2007.

Franco Abbina (actor) is 90 today.

Nicola Pistoia (actor) is 70 today.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

From the WAI! vault


Podcast Season 7, Episode #8, #129


Please join me at noon PST today for another episode of The Spaghetti Westerns Podcast. I’ll be covering “Johnny West” starring Mimmo Palmara, in our on-going “History of the Spaghetti Western” segment. Then I’ll tell you “Whatever Became of… singer Don Powell”. Followed by Cesar Ojinaga in “Who Are Those Guys? The Film of the week is “Night of the Serpent” starring Luke Askew. The LP/CD of the week will be “Johnny West” and “Night of the Serpent” and composer Riz Ortolani. I’ll have an autograph of the week, a poster and book of the week. We’ll finish things up with The Weekly News. So, I’ll see you around High Noon on You Tube and Facebook.

Little Known Spaghetti Western Actors ~ Angelo Botti

[These daily posts will cover little known actors or people that have appeared in more recent films and TV series. Various degrees of information that I was able to find will be given and anything that you can add would be appreciated.]

Angelo Botti is an Italian actor and artist. He appeared in over 20 films and television appearances from 1970 to 2008. Among his film was an appearance in one Spaghetti western and that was in 1969’s “La sfida dei MacKenna” (Amen).

BOTTI, Angelo (Angelo Baresi) [1939, Emilia Romagna, Italy -     ] – artist, film, TV actor.

Amen – 1969

Ephemeral sets and film tourism, the eternal debate

Ephemeral architecture is the art or technique of designing and constructing buildings that are temporary, short-lived, and especially characterized by the poor quality of their materials.


By Juanen Pérez Miranda

March 20, 2024

The completion of the filming of the French series 'Zorro' and the demolition, a few days later, of the spectacular sets built in the area of El Chorrillo, Pechina, has met with strong opposition among cinephiles and fans of film tourism.

Undoubtedly, the disappearance of these sets is bad news, but rather than joining in the complaints, demonstrations of indignation and even pointing the finger of guilt, cases like this should first lead us to ask ourselves an extensive list of questions whose answers are not easy at all. That's why it's such a complicated and controversial topic.

In this case, as in other similar events that have taken place in this land of cinema, we let ourselves be carried away by the sentimental and desirable, without stopping to ask ourselves numerous questions. These sets, like most of them, have been built on a private estate. Does the preservation of the sets benefit the owners at all? Who would bear the alleged costs of maintenance and surveillance? Who would be responsible for damages or accidents that hypothetically visitors to the sets would suffer? And in the institutional sphere, would the municipality in which the decorations are located derive any benefit from the visits? Who would regulate and control access to the private estate?

The sets of 'Zorro', moreover, are of a greater volume and height than other nearby ones with which we inevitably compare this case. This particularity makes them even more prone to deterioration by meteorological agents (wind, rain). This, together with the indiscriminate access of people, cinephiles or not, lovers of film tourism or not, and isolated cases of vandalism, surely makes the place dangerous after a while.

But the conservation of some sets has already been carried out, with evident success, a hundred meters from this same place. That's right, in December 2013 we were all surprised that after the filming of 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' (Ridley Scott, 2014) they razed all the sets built except for the small ghetto, which has given us so much joy looking back ten years. The ghetto, which no one can explain why they left standing, has seen productions such as 'Game of Thrones' (2016), Brandariz's peculiar biblical trilogy, 'Brussel' (2017), numerous television programs, music videos or the most recent 'Road to Bethlehem' (2023) and 'Zorro' (premiering at the end of 2024) parade through its streets.

But between shoots, the ghetto has suffered periods of complete neglect and ruin, as we see in these images from May and December 2019.

Each new production has meant a rebirth for the ghetto, which has seen its houses and streets renovated and reinvents itself for a new stage of subsistence. The last impulse, with the series 'Zorro'.

Almeria is fortunate to have consolidated over time several sets, which were also "ephemeral" at their birth due to the way they were built. Saved by the continuity of filming and by the tourist exploitation, and also thanks to the commitment of their owners, today we continue to enjoy the towns of Oasys-Minihollywood, Fort Bravo and Western Leone, something that cannot be said in Madrid or Catalonia. But many, many others were not so lucky and ended up disappearing. We all know cases such as the ruins of the Poblado Mimbrero, which are still there because they are in a very isolated place; several forts that were eventually dismantled; the town of Nueva Frontera, whose owners ended up demolishing to avoid continuous incursions into their paintball player farm; the imposing castle in 'The Mystery of Wells' (2003), which wanted to buy a company but the Environment prevented it, or the fortress El Cóndor, which after its last appointment with cinema, 'Honolulu Baby' (2001) does not stop gradually falling apart and today is only a dangerous ruin. I wish it wasn't like that, but the owners of El Condor have no tourist or cinematographic interest.

Are we going back to the exemplary example of the surviving ghetto of 'Exodus'? Why wouldn't the same happen with the beautiful buildings they've built for 'Zorro'? Quite simply, because no one can guarantee that before the walls of the town hall or the casino begin to threaten to fall – or fall on someone – there will be some new filming that is interested, that uses them as they are or modified.

We can accuse the owners of the El Chorrillo estate, the Pechina town council, and the Almeria Provincial Council of lack of tourist vision, but what is evident in this case is that the owners of El Chorrillo have gotten rid of a problem. The huge estate on which the historic houses of El Chorrillo are located, which were a mining train station at the beginning of the 20th century, has had an urban development project for about fifteen years and, with this plan now free of legal complications, it is for sale waiting for investors who would totally transform the place. Although its cinematographic history goes back many years, the boom of important shoots that followed 'Exodus' does not confuse the real objective of the property: to sell for urbanization.

Here is an article by Manuel León in La Voz de Almería, October 2022. The property is still for sale.

This case of the 'Zorro' sets has the aggravating factor that fans have practically not had time to see the sets. Filming ended on a Thursday and the next day all the props were being removed and on Monday the shootdowns began. Less than a week later, nothing remains of the buildings.

Leaving aside the visceral and the search for culprits, we can only think of, from coherence, an intermediate solution that may be valid for future similar cases, which hopefully will abound. It would be an attempt at a temporary agreement between the Provincial Council of Almeria (Filming Almeria, Turismo Costa de Almeria) and the owners, to take charge of access and surveillance for a few weeks and thus allow hundreds of people to contemplate the sets, who would undoubtedly come, in the same way that so many people have visited the ghetto of 'Exodus' and 'Game of Thrones'.

Temporary solution and then the inevitable demolition? Better that than nothing.

Hopefully we will learn for the future, with interest on each other's part.

Spaghetti Western Locations for “Face to Face”

We continue our search for locations for “Face to Face”. A hoedown breaks out as the people welcome Beau home.

This scene was films at La Pedriza, Manzanres El Real, Spain. This rocky area was seen in many Spaghetti westerns including “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, “The Big Gundown” and several others.

For a more detailed view of this site and other Spaghetti Western locations please visit my friend Yoshi Yasuda’s location site:  and Captain Douglas Film Locations


Special Birthdays

Helmo Kindermann [voice actor] would have been 100 today but died in 2003.

Andrija Mitrečić (actor) is 80 today.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Spaghetti Western Trivia ~ LVC learns to ride a horse


When Lee Van Cleef appeared with Henry Fonda in the play “Mister Roberts”, Rance Howard (the father of Ron and Clint Howard) was his roommate on the road when the play travelled from major city to major city. While in Los Angeles Lee was approached by Stanley Kramer to take part in a film he was making called “High Noon” when Lee was asked if he could ride a horse he automatically said, “Of course he could!”. In reality as a guy from New Jersey he’d never been on one. Thankfully his roommate Rance was raised on a farm and could ride very well so he and Lee rented horses at a stable next to Griffith Park and Rance gave Lee a crash course on riding. The result was Lee got the part and went on to stardom in many westerns including Spaghetti westerns.

Little Known Spaghetti Western Actors ~ May Boss

[These daily posts will cover little known actors or people that have appeared in more recent films and TV series. Various degrees of information that I was able to find will be given and anything that you can add would be appreciated.]

May Boss was a trick rider in the rodeo circuit prior to entering the film industry in the early 1950's heyday of Hollywood Westerns. She started doing stunts in 1952 on “The Story of Will Rogers” her last stunt was performed in “The Hulk” in 2003 when she was 75. May is the mother of stuntman Clay Boss and director writer Ronit Ravichboss. May was a stunt double for Leslie Caron in 1970’s Euro-western “Madron” starring Richard Boone.

BOSS, May (aka May R. Boss) (May Raymond) [10/7/1924, Manhattan, New York, U.S.A. - 9/16/2015, Mission Viejo, California, U.S.A.] – rodeo performer, stuntwoman, married to ? Boss mother of stunt coordinator, stuntman, actor Clay Boss (Clayotn Boss) [1950-    ] married to Donald Zonshine (1954-    ), director, writer Ronit S. Ravichboss [1956-    ], (inducted into the Stuntman’s hall of fame, awarded the Helen Gibson Award for lifetime achievement.

Madron – 1970 [stunts]

New German Blu-ray, DVD release of “Django 2”


“Django 2”

Django’s Great Return



Director: Nello Rossati

Starring: Franco Nero, Christopher Connolly, Donald Pleseance


Country: Germany

Label: Retro Gold 63

Region B

Blu-ray, DVD

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Languages: DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo German, English

Subtitles: German

Running time: 96 minutes

Extras: four cover options (limited to 444, 222, 163 and 63 copies respectively), 24-page booklet by Patrick Quaiser (German); interview with Franco Nero; trailer


Available: March 29, 2024

Special Birthdays

Josip Lesic (writer) would have been 95 today but died in 1993.

Walter Wickenhauser (actor) is95 today.

Mario Girotti (Terence Hill) (director, actor) is 85 today.

Salvatore Caronia (actor) is 80 today.

Riccardo Salvino would have been 80 today but died in 1999.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Little Known Spaghetti Western Actors ~ Vladimir Bosnjak

[These daily posts will cover little known actors or people that have appeared in more recent films and TV series. Various degrees of information that I was able to find will be given and anything that you can add would be appreciated.]

Vladimir Bosnjak is/was a Serbian character actor. He appeared in nine films from 1963 to 1987. His only Euro-western appearance was in his first film  “Winnetou I” (Apache Gold) 1963 in the role of Lemmy. What happened to him is unknown.

BOSNJAK, Vladimir (aka Velimir Bosnjak) [19??, Serbia, Yugolavia -     ] – film, TV, voice actor.

Apache Gold – 1963 (Lemmy)

Why One of the Best Spaghetti Westerns Ever Was Never Released in the U.S.

This 1960s Spaghetti Western subverted every genre trope, and U.S. distributors were not happy.


By Aled Owen

March 14, 2024

While Sergio Leone's "Man With No Name" trilogy climaxed in the mid-1960s with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, another Spaghetti Western director was experiencing his own international success story. 1966's Django made such a huge splash for director Sergio Corbucci that nearly 40 other Spaghetti Westerns set to release in the following years were renamed to include the name "Django" and ride on the coattails of Corbucci's success. Of course, it also went on to inspire 2012's Django Unchained written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and the 2023 series from Sky/Canal+. In 1987, Corbucci would eventually direct the only official sequel, Django Strikes Again [actually it was directed by NELLO ROSATTI], but his true follow-up came only two years after Django when he made Il Grande Silenzio — also known as The Great Silence.

The '60s were a time of great change worldwide, both culturally and politically. As such, Hollywood's long line of conservative Westerns (a la John Ford and John Wayne) were opposed by the gritty reality of "mud and blood," as Corbucci himself put it. Shot largely in Italy, the Spaghetti Western's disassociation with the real American West setting gave it the perspective to tell its stories in an unadulterated warts-and-all manner. Although Corbucci expressed disdain for the hippie culture of the '60s, he was an undeniable leftist and anti-authoritarian. His films explored his politics but were largely consumed by conservatives, making for the perfect Trojan Horse for his ideas. However, with The Great Silence, its pessimistic ending was too much, and the film was not released in the United States until the new millennium.

How 'The Great Silence' Flips the Script on Westerns

From the very opening of The Great Silence, Sergio Corbucci flips the script. In an era when bounty killers became the only conceivable way of policing the great frontiers, groups of innocent "outlaws" hid in the wild, weathering the elements in the hopes of evading the bloodthirsty, money-hungry men paid to kill them for profit (led by Klaus Kinski's Loco). That's where our hero comes in, a mute known only as Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant). As a killer of killers, Silence becomes a symbol, striking fear into the hearts of those who make money from senselessly killing men and women without a trial. From the very start, the film swaps the traditional archetypes, showing us a world much grayer than the black-and-white world of '50s Westerns, and the poignancy of this idea continues to this day.

According to Repo Man director and Corbucci historian Alex Cox, "Corbucci apparently was moved, not by the more celebrated murders of Robert Kennedy or Dr. Martin Luther King, but by the deaths of Che Guevara and Malcolm X. He was something of a leftist, and he apparently made Grande Silenzio as a tribute to those two revolutionary fighters." Shot in the Italian Alps (doubling for 1899 Utah), the story also sees Silence fall in love with the widow of one of Loco's victims, a strong-willed African-American woman named Pauline (Vonetta McGee). Their interracial romance alluded to the ongoing Civil Rights movement in the United States, but that wasn't what made 20th Century Fox refuse to release The Great Silence in the States.

Why 'The Great Silence' Wasn't Released in the United States

The U.S. distribution rights were bought by 20th Century Fox as a gift for actor Clint Eastwood, whose success in Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns made him Hollywood's go-to gunslinger and a successor to the aging John Wayne. The idea was for Eastwood to star in an English-language remake of Il Grande Silenzio in the role of the mute gunfighter. 20th Century Fox's Darryl Francis Zanuck was shown a screening of the Italian original and was offended by its cynical ending in which the wounded Silence tries and fails to save the innocent outlaws and is killed alongside his lover at the hand of the brutal and unstoppable bounty killers.

"He swallowed his cigar and said, '20th Century Fox would never release this picture!'" stated Cox, who went on to reveal that Corbucci had expected this and shot two alternate endings for the film, as seen in the Blu-ray release. One sees the hero effortlessly kill all his enemies and liberate the bounties, making for an unearned happy ending "of such cynical and bizarre proportions that it's unbelievable." The second alternate ending feels somewhere in-between, with Silence being shot and one of Loco's men leaving the building calmly. This bittersweet ending is vague and bizarre. As a result, Fox released the film in foreign territories but not in the States. As for Eastwood, the project was developed into a completely unrelated movie called, Joe Kidd.

When Was 'The Great Silence' Released in the United States?

For decades, the film endured, being passed around during its second life on home video, and even garnered a cult following. It became a legendary film, sought out by cinephiles and collectors until 2012, the year of Tarantino's Spaghetti Western part revival, part homage Django Unchained. With Spaghetti Westerns back in the zeitgeist and audiences hungry for the original movies that inspired the new Tarantino film, the demand for The Great Silence was prevalent. Under license from Beta Film, the film experienced its first U.S. theatrical release, when an English-dubbed 35mm print was toured around the country. Tarantino's follow-up The Hateful Eight would take lots of direct inspiration from The Great Silence specifically, with Little White Lies reporting, "With its snowed-in setting, homicidal bounty hunters and original Ennio Morricone score, [it] bears a striking resemblance to Italian director Sergio Corbucci’s blood-soaked Spaghetti Western from 1968."

The Great Silence subverted every trope established by the genre before it, stripping it down to reveal what truly matters in the genre. It exchanges the great Western desert plains for the snowy wasteland of the 1899 blizzard. It swaps the roles of the traditional law enforcers and the man in black. It gave its female heroine a three-dimensional character. And of course, most shockingly, it subverts expectations by having the villains win and the hero lose. How then can this possibly be part of the Western genre if it breaks almost all its rules? Because, in short, it's only by deconstructing the genre that we are able to truly define it, and in the case of The Great Silence, Corbucci makes it clear that all a Western needs is a character with a moral view of right and wrong who lives and dies by that code... even if it's not to 20th Century Fox's liking!

Voices of the Spaghetti Westerns ~ “A Fistful of Songs”

As we know most of the Euro-westerns were co-productions from Italy, Spain, Germany and France which incorporated British and American actors to gain a worldwide audience. The films were shot silent and then dubbed into the various languages where they were sold for distribution. That means Italian, Spanish, German, French and English voice actors were hired to dub the films. Even actors from the countries where the film was to be shown were often dubbed by voice actors for various reasons such as the actors were already busy making another film, they wanted to be paid additional salaries for dubbing their voices, the actor’s voice didn’t fit the character they were playing, accidents to the actors and in some cases even death before the film could be dubbed.

I’ll list a Euro-western and the (I) Italian, (S) Spanish, (G) German and (F) French, (E) English voices that I can find and once in a while a bio on a specific voice actor as in Europe these actors are as well-known as the actors they voiced.

Today we’ll cover “A Fistful of Songs”

[(I) Italian, (S) Spanish, (G) German, (F) French, (E) English]

Betty Johnson – Vivi Bach (G) Vivi Bach

Chief Big Vulture – Gustavo Rojo (G) Gert Günther Hoffmann

Franz – Thomas Alder (G) Michael Cramer

Sheriff Toro – Renzo Palmer (G) Martin Hirthe

Mr. Lewis – Umberto D’Orsi (G) Hugo Schrader

Jack – Nino Vangelli (G) Arnold Marquis

Martin Hirthe  (1921 – 1981)

Martin Hirthe was born on February 13, 1921, in Berlin, Germany. He attended acting school and then entered the army during World War II. He was captured and became a British prisoner of war. While a captive he starred in a presentation of “Black and White”. After the war he remained in Austria and appeared in his first theatrical engagementes in Klagenfurt, Graz and Vienna before returning to Germany and playing in Baden-Baden, Kassel and Göttingen. In 1962 he returned home to Berlin and performed at the Schiller Theater. During his stage career he made several TV appearances. Hirthe was probably better known for his voice then his face as he became of the busiest German film dubbers in the 1960s and ‘70s. He was the German voice of such actors as Walter Matthay, Martin Balsam, Telly Savalas and Ernest Borgnine. During this time, he was the voice of Bud Spencer in seven films including the westerns “God Forgives, I Don’t” and “Ace High” both in 1968. He was the voice of Fernando Sancho in “Django Shoots First” and “The Return of Ringo” and “$7.00 to Kill” all in 1966, “$10,00 for a Massacre” (1967). He voiced Eli Wallach in “Ace High” (1968) and “The White, the Yellow and the Black” (1975). Among other westerns he was the voice of Telly Savalas, Frank Wolff, Jack Palance, Rod Steiger and Roberto Camardiel. Martin died on August 9, 1981, in Berlin. Today we celebrate what would have been Martin Hirthe’s 90th birthday.


Special Birthdays

Ilaria Occhini (actress) would have been 90 today, but died in 2019.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Little Known Spaghetti Western Actors ~ William Bosch

[These daily posts will cover little known actors or people that have appeared in more recent films and TV series. Various degrees of information that I was able to find will be given and anything that you can add would be appreciated.]

William Bosch is/was a German porn actor born Will Stoer

Five legitimate film credits between 1976-1983 and several porn credits

BOSCH, William (aka Willy Bosch) (Will Stoer) [German] – film actor.

Two Pistols and a Coward – 1968 (Thomas Clay)

Ernesto Calindri, not only the artichoke bitter: a book tells the story of the master of the theater that Carosello turned into a star

25 years after his death, Mauro Ballerini retraces the life and career of a character who has crossed the history of Italy

la Republica

By Anna Lupini

March 20, 2024

Ernesto Calindri, for many just a face linked to the TV of the Carosello. In the collective memory, his stately and placid appearance remains inextricably linked to an advertisement: it was the gentleman sitting in Piazza Duomo in Milan sipping an artichoke bitter, capable of counteracting "the wear and tear of modern life".

In reality, the man was much more and more. To restore the right artistic dimension to the actor and director, Mauro Ballerini took care of it, who 25 years after his death publishes the first monograph entirely dedicated to his life and his art. Rarely have I written Theatre without a capital letter is the title of the vast historical-literary work focused on the figure of Ernesto Calindri and published by the Photo Travel Editions Publishing House of Rionero in V. (PZ).

In over 700 pages rich in history, the result of meticulous documentary research in the most disparate archives, which lasted over ten years, Ernesto Calindri reveals himself as a multifaceted figure: not only entertainer and comic actor, but also dramatic artist, interpreter of classical and experimental theater, chief comedian, director, talent scout and artistic director, acting teacher, TV presenter, Radio, film and television actor. Through his career, which unfolds over 70 years, the book also traces the history of Italy, from fascism to Tangentopoli: Calindri is the involuntary witness of crucial events, decades full of social, political and cultural changes.

[Ernesto Calindri, right, with Paola Borbone and Vittorio Gassman]

The man will emerge (his childhood, his beginnings, his fears), the father, the friend, the teacher and the old man with inexhaustible resources. Its history will be the history of Italian theatre in the 20th century, but also the history of Italy, from the Mussolini myth to the spies of the Ovra, from fascist censorship to Christian Democrat bigotry, from the post-war years to those of the 1968 subversion and the years of lead. Through him, the birth of TV and the moon landing, the invasion of Hungary and the referendum struggle on divorce.

But Calindri doesn't come out of nowhere; he is preceded by generations of actors, comedians and prima donnas: they are his parents, his grandparents, his ancestors, a long and fascinating adventure that time had definitively erased and that had to be rediscovered, a work painstakingly accomplished by Ballerini, who carried out a meticulous research work. A work that aims to reconcile historical rigor with narrative pleasantness, the scientific nature of the data with the ineffability of feeling.

CALINDRI, Ernesto (aka E. Calindri) [2/5/1909, Certaldo, Tuscany, Italy – 6/9/1999, Milan, Lombardy, Italy (stroke)] – director, writer, theater, film, TV actor, son of actor Manlio Calindri [18??-19??] actress Egloge Felletti [18??-19??], brother of actress Dora Calindri (Fedora Calindri) [1910–2002], married to actress Roberta Mari (Yvi Mirenda) [1918-1993] (1939-1993) father of actor Gabriele Calindri [1960-    ], three other children.

The Two Sergeants of General Custer – 1965 (Colonel Custer)

Who Are Those Guys ~ Joe De Santis


Giuseppe De Santis was born in Fondi, Lazio, Italy on February 11, 1917. He was a member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and fought with the anti-German Resistance in Rome during World War II.

He was first a student of philosophy and literature before entering Rome's Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. While working as a journalist for Cinema magazine, De Santis became, under the influence of Cesare Zavattini, a major proponent of the early neorealist filmmakers who were trying to make films that mirrored the simple and tragic realities of proletarian life using location shooting and nonprofessional actors.

While still working for Cinema magazine, he increasingly worked as a screenwriter and assistant director until 1947 when he made his own directorial debut with “Caccia Tragica” (Tragic Hunt). Like the two films to follow, it was a sincere call for better living conditions for the Italian working class and agrarian workers. Issues of corruption, the black market, collaboration with the Germans, and treatment of ex-soldiers were also introduced in the film.

His third film “Bitter Rice” (1950), the story of a young woman working in the rice fields who must choose between two socially disparate suitors, made a star of Silvana Mangano and was a landmark of the new cinematic style. It also earned De Santis an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Story. In 1959 he won a Golden Globe with “La strada lunga un anno”; the film, produced in Yugoslavia, had a nomination for the Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film.

Giuseppe appeared as an actor in only three films one of those was his only Spaghetti western “Dio perdoni la mia pistola” (God Will Forgive My Pistol) in 1969 starring Wayde Preston. He was billed as Joe De Santis.

Joe married the Yugoslavian actress and ballet dancer Dina De Santis (Gordana Miletic) [1937- ] in 1967. They remained married until De Santis’ death on May 16, 1997, at the age of 80, in Rome.

De SANTIS, Joe (aka Giuseppe De Sanctis, Gino de Sanctis) (Giuseppe De Santis) [2/11/1917, Fondi, Lazio, Italy – 5/16/1997, Rome, Lazio, Italy (heart attack)] – producer, director, assistant director, film actor, brother of actor Lucio De Santis [1922-2006], cinematographer, cameraman Pasqualino De Santis (Pasquale De Santis) [1927–1996] married to actress Dina De Santis (Gordana Miletic) [1937-    ] (1967-1997).

God Will Forgive My Pistol - 1969 (Jerome/Charlie Clayton/Clanton)

Special Birthdays

Edward Eyseneck (actor) would have been 135 today but died in 1968.

Simon Van Collem (actor) would have been 105 today but died in 1989.

Peter Schamoni (director) would have been 90 today but died in 2011.