Vittorio Gassman Knight Grand Cross OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [vitˈtɔːrjo ˈɡazman]; born Gassmann; 1 September 1922 – 29 June 2000), popularly known as Il Mattatore, was an Italian actor, director and screenwriter.
He is considered one of the greatest Italian actors, whose career includes both important productions as well as dozens of divertissements.
Gassman's debut was in Milan, in 1942, with Alda Borelli in Niccodemi's La Nemica (theatre). He then moved to Rome and acted at the Teatro Eliseo joining Tino Carraro and Ernesto Calindri in a team that remained famous for some time; with them he acted in a range of plays from bourgeois comedy to sophisticated intellectual theatre. In 1946, he made his film debut in Preludio d'amore, while only one year later he appeared in five films. In 1948 he played in Riso amaro.
It was with Luchino Visconti's company that Gassman achieved his mature successes, together with Paolo Stoppa, Rina Morelli and Paola Borboni. He played Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' Un tram che si chiama desiderio (A Streetcar Named Desire), as well as in Come vi piace (As You Like It) by Shakespeare and Oreste (by Vittorio Alfieri). He joined the Teatro Nazionale with Tommaso Salvini, Massimo Girotti, Arnoldo Foà to create a successful Peer Gynt (by Henrik 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, followed by rare works such as Seneca's Thyestes and Aeschylus's The Persians.
In cinema, he worked frequently both in Italy and abroad. He met and fell in love with American actress Shelley Winters while she was touring Europe with fiancé Farley Granger. When Winters was forced to return to Hollywood to fulfill contractual obligations, he followed her there and married her. With his natural charisma and his fluency in English he scored a number of roles in Hollywood, including Rhapsody with Elizabeth Taylor and The Glass Wall before returning to Italy and the theatre.
On 29 June 2000, Gassman died of a heart attack in his sleep at his home in Rome at the age of 77. He was buried at Campo Verano.
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