Vittorio Gassman

Vittorio Gassman (Il Mattatore) (September 1, 1922 - June 29, 2000) was an Italian theatre and film actor and director.

Born in Genoa to a wealthy family of German origins, Gassmann was considered one among the best Italian actors and is commonly recalled as an extremely professional, versatile, magnetic interpreter, whose long career includes both important productions as well as dozens of divertissements (which gave him a vast popularity).

While very young he moved to Rome, where he attended the studies at the Accademia Nazionale d'Arte Drammatica where some of the most important figures of Italian theatre and cinema also studied, such as Paolo Stoppa, Rina Morelli, Adolfo Celi, Luigi Squarzina, Elio Pandolfi, Rossella Falk, Lea Padovani and, later, with Paolo Panelli, Nino Manfredi, Tino Buazzelli, Gianrico Tedeschi, Monica Vitti, Luca Ronconi and many others.

His debut was in Milan, in 1942, with Alda Borelli in Niccodemi's Nemica (theatre), he then moved to Rome and the Teatro Eliseo joining Tino Carraro and Ernesto Calindri in a team that remained famous; with them he acted in a range of plays from bourgeois comedy to the sophisticated intellectual theatre, with no apparent difficulty in the sudden changes.

In 1946 he made his film debut in Preludio d'amore, the year after he appeared in five films. In 1948 his famous interpretation in Riso Amaro displayed his love for cinema and his capability of excelling both in movies and at the theatre.

It was with Luchino Visconti's company that Gassman achieved his mature successes, together with Stoppa, Rina Morelli and Paola Borboni. He played a vigorous Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' Un tram che si chiama desiderio, then emphatic in Shakespeare's Rosalinda or in Vittorio Alfieri's Oreste. He then joined the Teatro Nazionale with Tommaso Salvini, Massimo Girotti, Arnoldo Fo, for a successful Peer Gynt (Ibsen).

With Luigi Squarzina in 1952 he co-founded and co-directed the Teatro d'Arte Italiano, producing the first complete version of Hamlet in Italy, then rare works such as Seneca's Tieste or Eschilo's The Persians.

In 1956, a key year in his career, Gassman played a memorable Othello with the great actor Salvo Randone, exchanging with him the roles of the Moor and Iago. A little later, in the television series entitled Il Mattatore (spotlight chaser) he obtained unexpected success and Il Mattatore soon became the nickname that accompanied him for the rest of his life. That year Gassman also directed and starred in a movie dedicated to theatre: it was a version of Kean.

A true perfectionist, he always hated imperfect diction, or dialectal corruptions (but he was also able to render, perfectly and when needed, most of the many Italian dialects). Quite bravely, he accepted the challenge of directing Adelchi, one of the less known and less "easy" works by Alessandro Manzoni. He toured his production to half a million spectators, crossing Italy with his Teatro Popolare Itinerante (a newer edition of the famous Carro di Tespi).

His productions include most of the famous authors of 20th century, with repeated returns tothe classics of Shakespeare, Dostoevskij and the Greeks. He also founded a theatre school in Florence, which formed many of the more talented actors of the current generations.

In cinema he worked abroad several times and during a stint in Hollywood he met and married Shelley Winters.

But, despite his success in films, Gassman never left theatre. In the later part of his career, he added poetry to his repertoire, helping to bring to Italy foreign works.

Gassman the actor, married "only" actresses: Nora Ricci (with whom he had his first daughter Paola, an actress herself and wife of Ugo Pagliai), Shelley Winters, Juliette Maynel, who gave him Alessandro (also an actor), and Diletta D'Andrea.

Gassman was a man of intense emotions and intellectual honesty; his notable sense of humour and self-irony, brought him in the 1990s to take part in a popular TV show in which he very formally and 'seriously' recited documents such as the gas invoice, as well as the telephone bill and similar texts. He rendered them with the same professional skill that made him famous while reciting Dante's Commedia.

Generally acclaimed as an actor, Gassman was also discussed as a man, due to his private life - his divorces (a noted scandal in 1950s and 60s), his initial atheism (later he gained a certain personalistic faith). Also, in his public appearances on the media he often gave original or unconventional comments, sometimes with the clear intention of disturbing the moderated cultural positions; he also gained many enemies in the world of art for similarly frank judgements.

In his latest years he was victim of depression.

He died of a heart-attack in his Roman home.

Filmography - Actor

(Gassman was in more than a hundred films, in addition to many instantaneous cameos; this list is consequently not complete.)

  • La Bomba, (1999)
  • Luchino Visconti (1999)
  • La Cena (1998)
  • Un homme digne de confiance (1997)
  • Deserto di fuoco" (1997) TV Series
  • Sleepers (1996)
  • Tutti gli anni una volta l'anno (1994)
  • Abraham (1994) (TV)
  • Quando eravamo repressi (1992)
  • Tolgo il disturbo (1992)
  • El Largo invierno (1991)
  • Rossini! Rossini! (1991)
  • I Divertimenti della vita privata (1990)
  • Les Mille et une nuits, Les (1990)
  • Dimenticare Palermo (1990)
  • Mortacci (1989)
  • Lo Zio indegno (1989)
  • I Picari (1988)
  • I Soliti ignoti vent'anni dopo (1987) aka Big Deal After 20 Years
  • La Famiglia (1987) aka The Family
  • Paradigma (1985) aka Power of Evil
  • Benvenuta (1983)
  • La Vie est un roman(1983) aka Life Is a Bed of Roses
  • Il Conte Tacchia (1982) aka Count Tacchia
  • Di padre in figlio (1982)
  • Tempest (1982)
  • Il Turno (1981)
  • Sharky's Machine (1981)
  • Camera d'albergo (1981) aka Chambre d'htel
  • Sono fotogenico (1980)
  • La Terrazza (1980) aka The Terrace
  • The Nude Bomb (1980) aka Maxwell Smart and the Nude Bomb
  • Quintet (1979)
  • Caro pap (1979) aka Dear Father
  • Due pezzi di pane (1978) aka Happy Hobos
  • I Nuovi mostri (1978) aka Th eNew Monsters
  • A Wedding (1978)
  • Anima persa (1977) aka The Forbidden Room
  • Come una rosa al naso (1976) aka Pure as a Lily
  • IL Deserto dei Tartari (1976) aka The Desert of the Tartars
  • Signore e signori, buonanotte (1976)
  • Telefoni bianchi (1976)
  • A mezzanotte va la ronda del piacere (1975) aka Midnight Pleasures
  • C'eravamo tanto amati (1974) We All Loved Each Other So Much
  • Profumo di donna (1974) aka Scent of a Woman
  • Che c'entriamo noi con la rivoluzione? (1973)
  • La Tosca (1973)
  • Senza famiglia, nullatenenti cercano affetto (1972)
  • In nome del popolo italiano (1971)
  • Scipione detto anche l'africano (1971) aka Scipio the African
  • L'Udienza (1971) aka The Audience
  • Brancaleone alle crociate (1970) aka Brancaleone at the Crusades *Contestazione generale (1970)
  • Il Divorzio (1970)
  • L'Alibi (1969) aka Alibi
  • L'Arcangelo (1969)
  • Dove vai tutta nuda? (1969) aka Where Are You Going All Naked?
  • Una su 13 (1969) aka The 13 Chairs
  • La Pecora nera (1968) aka The Black Sheep
  • Questi fantasmi (1968) aka Ghosts - Italian Style
  • Il Profetal (1968)
  • Lo Scatenato (1967)
  • Il Tigre (1967)
  • Woman Times Seven (1967)
  • L'Arcidiavolo (1966) aka Devil in Love
  • L'Armata Brancaleone (1966)
  • Le Piacevoli notti (1966)
  • Slalom (1965)
  • Una Vergine per il principe (1965) aka Virgin for the Prince
  • The Dirty Game, (1965)
  • La Congiuntura, (1964) aka Hard Time for Princes
  • Il Gaucho (1964)
  • Se permettete parliamo di donne (1964) aka Let's Talk About Women
  • Frenesia dell'estate (1963)
  • La Smania addosso (1963)
  • Il Successo (1963)
  • I Mostri (1963)
  • Amore difficile (1962) aka Sex Can Be Difficult
  • Il Giorno pi corto (1962)
  • La Marcia su Roma (1962) aka March on Rome
  • Il Sorpasso (1962) aka The Easy Life
  • Barabbas (1962)
  • Anima nera (1961)
  • I Briganti italiani (1961)
  • Fantasmi a Roma (1961) aka Ghosts of Rome
  • Una Vita difficile, (1961) aka A Difficult Life
  • Il Giudizio universale (1961) aka The Last Judgement
  • Crimen (1960) aka Killing in Monte Carlo
  • Il Mattatore (1960)
  • Audace colpo dei soliti ignoti (1959) aka Hold-up la milanaise
  • La Cambiale (1959)
  • La Grande guerra (1959) aka The Great War
  • The Miracle (1959)
  • Le Sorprese dell'amore (1959)
  • La Tempesta (1958)
  • I Soliti ignoti (1958) aka The Usual Unidentified Thieves
  • La Ragazza del palio (1957)
  • Difendo il mio amore (1956)
  • Giovanni dalle bande nere (1956)
  • Kean (1956)
  • War and Peace (1956)
  • La Donna pi bella del mondo, (1955)
  • Mambo (1954)
  • Rhapsody (1954)
  • Sombrero (1953)
  • Glass Wall (1953)
  • Cry of the Hunted (1953)
  • Il Sogno di Zorro (1952)
  • Anna (1951)
  • La Corona negra (1951)
  • Il Leone di Amalfi (1950)
  • I Fuorilegge, (1949) aka TheOutlaws
  • Ho sognato il paradiso (1949) aka Streets of Sorrow
  • Il Lupo della Sila, (1949)
  • Lo Sparviero del Nilo, (1949)
  • Il Tradimento, (1949)
  • Una Voce nel tuo cuore, (1949)
  • Riso amaro (1948) aka Bitter Rice
  • Le Avventure di Pinocchio, (1947) aka The Adventures of Pinocchio
  • Il Cavaliere misterioso (1947) aka The Mysterious Rider
  • Daniele Cortis (1947)
  • L'Ebreo errante (1947) aka The Wandering Jew, (1947)
  • La Figlia del capitano (1947) aka The Captain's Daughter
  • Preludio d'amore (1946) aka Love Prelude

Filmography - Director

  • Di padre in figlio (1982)
  • Senza famiglia, nullatenenti cercano affetto (1972)
  • L'Alibi (1969)
  • Kean (1956)

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Filmography - Director. A biographical movie of John Holmes starring Val Kilmer called Wonderland was released on October 17, 2003. (Gassman was in more than a hundred films, in addition to many instantaneous cameos; this list is consequently not complete.). In 1986 Holmes contracted AIDS, but continued to have unprotected sex without informing any of his partners of his status, and worked in the adult film industry until the disease emaciated him. He died of a heart-attack in his Roman home. Holmes and continued to prostitute himself and his underage girlfriend. In his latest years he was victim of depression. As Holmes' career continued to decline, he starred in his only full-length feature gay porn movie, The Private Pleasures of John C.

Also, in his public appearances on the media he often gave original or unconventional comments, sometimes with the clear intention of disturbing the moderated cultural positions; he also gained many enemies in the world of art for similarly frank judgements. Gebenini divorced him while he was in jail in 1982. Generally acclaimed as an actor, Gassman was also discussed as a man, due to his private life - his divorces (a noted scandal in 1950s and 60s), his initial atheism (later he gained a certain personalistic faith). Holmes was incarcerated in connection with the murders, but was later acquitted. He rendered them with the same professional skill that made him famous while reciting Dante's Commedia. Four of the gang's members were later found killed in what is now known as the Wonderland Murders or Four on the Floor (police reference to the crime). Gassman was a man of intense emotions and intellectual honesty; his notable sense of humour and self-irony, brought him in the 1990s to take part in a popular TV show in which he very formally and 'seriously' recited documents such as the gas invoice, as well as the telephone bill and similar texts. After the robbery, Nash is believed to have suspected Holmes had a part in it, and after getting Holmes to confess to his participation, allegedly exacted revenge against the Wonderland Gang.

Gassman the actor, married "only" actresses: Nora Ricci (with whom he had his first daughter Paola, an actress herself and wife of Ugo Pagliai), Shelley Winters, Juliette Maynel, who gave him Alessandro (also an actor), and Diletta D'Andrea. Allegedly in exchange for his life, he told gang leaders about Nash and a very large stash of drugs, money and jewelry Nash had, and helped to set up a robbery. In the later part of his career, he added poetry to his repertoire, helping to bring to Italy foreign works. After stealing from a couple of drug runs, Holmes found himself in trouble with the Wonderland Gang. But, despite his success in films, Gassman never left theatre. At the same time, Holmes was closely associated with the Wonderland Gang, frequently selling drugs for them. In cinema he worked abroad several times and during a stint in Hollywood he met and married Shelley Winters. Holmes had developed a close friendship with drug dealer and nightclub owner Eddie Nash, who supplied Holmes with cocaine, heroin and other drugs he desired.

He also founded a theatre school in Florence, which formed many of the more talented actors of the current generations. In 1981, he was arrested for stealing a computer from a car. His productions include most of the famous authors of 20th century, with repeated returns tothe classics of Shakespeare, Dostoevskij and the Greeks. The money Holmes was earning at the time was not enough to support his drug addiction, and he ventured into crime, selling drugs for gangs, prostituting himself to both men and women, committing credit card fraud and petty theft. He toured his production to half a million spectators, crossing Italy with his Teatro Popolare Itinerante (a newer edition of the famous Carro di Tespi). He starred at a time when an attractive personality and a certain amount of acting ability were demanded of porn stars. Quite bravely, he accepted the challenge of directing Adelchi, one of the less known and less "easy" works by Alessandro Manzoni. By 1978 Holmes was reputed be earning as much as $3000.00 a day as a porn actor.

A true perfectionist, he always hated imperfect diction, or dialectal corruptions (but he was also able to render, perfectly and when needed, most of the many Italian dialects). In 1973, Holmes' career began to take off with a porn series built around a private eye named Johnny Wadd. That year Gassman also directed and starred in a movie dedicated to theatre: it was a version of Kean. Holmes was arrested during this time for pimping and pandering, but avoided prison time by becoming an informant for the LAPD. A little later, in the television series entitled Il Mattatore (spotlight chaser) he obtained unexpected success and Il Mattatore soon became the nickname that accompanied him for the rest of his life. With the success of 1972's Deep Throat, The Devil in Miss Jones and Behind the Green Door, porn had become chic although it was still illegal. In 1956, a key year in his career, Gassman played a memorable Othello with the great actor Salvo Randone, exchanging with him the roles of the Moor and Iago. Initially, he did magazine work and the occasional 8mm loop (both straight and gay), keeping his work in porn secret from his wife.

With Luigi Squarzina in 1952 he co-founded and co-directed the Teatro d'Arte Italiano, producing the first complete version of Hamlet in Italy, then rare works such as Seneca's Tieste or Eschilo's The Persians. While recovering from the collapsed lung, Holmes frequented a club in Gardena, where he met a man in the bathroom who encouraged him to do pornography. He then joined the Teatro Nazionale with Tommaso Salvini, Massimo Girotti, Arnoldo Fo, for a successful Peer Gynt (Ibsen). Holmes found work as a forklift driver at a warehouse, but the rigors of driving in and out of a frozen warehouse created severe health problems, causing Holmes' lung to collapse on three separate occasions. He played a vigorous Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' Un tram che si chiama desiderio, then emphatic in Shakespeare's Rosalinda or in Vittorio Alfieri's Oreste. For the next two years, Holmes and his wife lived quiet, uneventful lives. It was with Luchino Visconti's company that Gassman achieved his mature successes, together with Stoppa, Rina Morelli and Paola Borboni. They married in 1965.

In 1948 his famous interpretation in Riso Amaro displayed his love for cinema and his capability of excelling both in movies and at the theatre. It was during his stint as an ambulance driver that he met a nurse named Sharon Gebenini. In 1946 he made his film debut in Preludio d'amore, the year after he appeared in five films. Upon his discharge, Holmes moved to Los Angeles where he worked in a variety of jobs. His debut was in Milan, in 1942, with Alda Borelli in Niccodemi's Nemica (theatre), he then moved to Rome and the Teatro Eliseo joining Tino Carraro and Ernesto Calindri in a team that remained famous; with them he acted in a range of plays from bourgeois comedy to the sophisticated intellectual theatre, with no apparent difficulty in the sudden changes. At 16, with the permission of his mother, Holmes enlisted in the United States Army and spent three years in Germany in the Signal Corps. While very young he moved to Rome, where he attended the studies at the Accademia Nazionale d'Arte Drammatica where some of the most important figures of Italian theatre and cinema also studied, such as Paolo Stoppa, Rina Morelli, Adolfo Celi, Luigi Squarzina, Elio Pandolfi, Rossella Falk, Lea Padovani and, later, with Paolo Panelli, Nino Manfredi, Tino Buazzelli, Gianrico Tedeschi, Monica Vitti, Luca Ronconi and many others. John Holmes was the youngest of five children.

Born in Genoa to a wealthy family of German origins, Gassmann was considered one among the best Italian actors and is commonly recalled as an extremely professional, versatile, magnetic interpreter, whose long career includes both important productions as well as dozens of divertissements (which gave him a vast popularity). John's mother, a devout Southern Baptist married Edward Holmes a few years later, and changed John's birthname from Estes to Holmes. Vittorio Gassman (Il Mattatore) (September 1, 1922 - June 29, 2000) was an Italian theatre and film actor and director. Born in Pickaway County, Ohio, John never knew his father, a railroad worker named Carl Estes. Kean (1956). In reality, it was somewhere between 9 and 11 inches long (23-28 cm). L'Alibi (1969). Some elements of the film Boogie Nights were loosely based on Holmes, who was widely publicized as having a 13-inch-long (34 cm) penis.

Senza famiglia, nullatenenti cercano affetto (1972). Holmes was particularly active in the period before condoms were customarily used in adult film, and was a user of injectable drugs; he died in 1988 from complications due to AIDS. Di padre in figlio (1982). John Curtis Estes (August 8, 1944–March 13, 1988), better known as John Holmes, was an adult film actor of the 1970s and 1980s and is generally considered to be the greatest male star in the 35 years since cinematic pornography lost its illegal status and became generally available to the public. Preludio d'amore (1946) aka Love Prelude. La Figlia del capitano (1947) aka The Captain's Daughter.

L'Ebreo errante (1947) aka The Wandering Jew, (1947). Daniele Cortis (1947). Il Cavaliere misterioso (1947) aka The Mysterious Rider. Le Avventure di Pinocchio, (1947) aka The Adventures of Pinocchio.

Riso amaro (1948) aka Bitter Rice. Una Voce nel tuo cuore, (1949). Il Tradimento, (1949). Lo Sparviero del Nilo, (1949).

Il Lupo della Sila, (1949). Ho sognato il paradiso (1949) aka Streets of Sorrow. I Fuorilegge, (1949) aka TheOutlaws. Il Leone di Amalfi (1950).

La Corona negra (1951). Anna (1951). Il Sogno di Zorro (1952). Cry of the Hunted (1953).

Glass Wall (1953). Sombrero (1953). Rhapsody (1954). Mambo (1954).

La Donna pi bella del mondo, (1955). War and Peace (1956). Kean (1956). Giovanni dalle bande nere (1956).

Difendo il mio amore (1956). La Ragazza del palio (1957). I Soliti ignoti (1958) aka The Usual Unidentified Thieves. La Tempesta (1958).

Le Sorprese dell'amore (1959). The Miracle (1959). La Grande guerra (1959) aka The Great War. La Cambiale (1959).

Audace colpo dei soliti ignoti (1959) aka Hold-up la milanaise. Il Mattatore (1960). Crimen (1960) aka Killing in Monte Carlo. Il Giudizio universale (1961) aka The Last Judgement.

Una Vita difficile, (1961) aka A Difficult Life. Fantasmi a Roma (1961) aka Ghosts of Rome. I Briganti italiani (1961). Anima nera (1961).

Barabbas (1962). Il Sorpasso (1962) aka The Easy Life. La Marcia su Roma (1962) aka March on Rome. Il Giorno pi corto (1962).

Amore difficile (1962) aka Sex Can Be Difficult. I Mostri (1963). Il Successo (1963). La Smania addosso (1963).

Frenesia dell'estate (1963). Se permettete parliamo di donne (1964) aka Let's Talk About Women. Il Gaucho (1964). La Congiuntura, (1964) aka Hard Time for Princes.

The Dirty Game, (1965). Una Vergine per il principe (1965) aka Virgin for the Prince. Slalom (1965). Le Piacevoli notti (1966).

L'Armata Brancaleone (1966). L'Arcidiavolo (1966) aka Devil in Love. Woman Times Seven (1967). Il Tigre (1967).

Lo Scatenato (1967). Il Profetal (1968). Questi fantasmi (1968) aka Ghosts - Italian Style. La Pecora nera (1968) aka The Black Sheep.

Una su 13 (1969) aka The 13 Chairs. Dove vai tutta nuda? (1969) aka Where Are You Going All Naked?. L'Arcangelo (1969). L'Alibi (1969) aka Alibi.

Il Divorzio (1970). Brancaleone alle crociate (1970) aka Brancaleone at the Crusades *Contestazione generale (1970). L'Udienza (1971) aka The Audience. Scipione detto anche l'africano (1971) aka Scipio the African.

In nome del popolo italiano (1971). Senza famiglia, nullatenenti cercano affetto (1972). La Tosca (1973). Che c'entriamo noi con la rivoluzione? (1973).

Profumo di donna (1974) aka Scent of a Woman. C'eravamo tanto amati (1974) We All Loved Each Other So Much. A mezzanotte va la ronda del piacere (1975) aka Midnight Pleasures. Telefoni bianchi (1976).

Signore e signori, buonanotte (1976). IL Deserto dei Tartari (1976) aka The Desert of the Tartars. Come una rosa al naso (1976) aka Pure as a Lily. Anima persa (1977) aka The Forbidden Room.

A Wedding (1978). I Nuovi mostri (1978) aka Th eNew Monsters. Due pezzi di pane (1978) aka Happy Hobos. Caro pap (1979) aka Dear Father.

Quintet (1979). The Nude Bomb (1980) aka Maxwell Smart and the Nude Bomb. La Terrazza (1980) aka The Terrace. Sono fotogenico (1980).

Camera d'albergo (1981) aka Chambre d'htel. Sharky's Machine (1981). Il Turno (1981). Tempest (1982).

Di padre in figlio (1982). Il Conte Tacchia (1982) aka Count Tacchia. La Vie est un roman(1983) aka Life Is a Bed of Roses. Benvenuta (1983).

Paradigma (1985) aka Power of Evil. La Famiglia (1987) aka The Family. I Soliti ignoti vent'anni dopo (1987) aka Big Deal After 20 Years. I Picari (1988).

Lo Zio indegno (1989). Mortacci (1989). Dimenticare Palermo (1990). Les Mille et une nuits, Les (1990).

I Divertimenti della vita privata (1990). Rossini! Rossini! (1991). El Largo invierno (1991). Tolgo il disturbo (1992).

Quando eravamo repressi (1992). Abraham (1994) (TV). Tutti gli anni una volta l'anno (1994). Sleepers (1996).

Deserto di fuoco" (1997) TV Series. Un homme digne de confiance (1997). La Cena (1998). Luchino Visconti (1999).

La Bomba, (1999).

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