Nationality: Italian. Born: Genoa, 1 September 1922. Education: Attended law school; then studied acting under Silvio D'Amico at the National Academy of Dramatic Art, Rome. Family: Second marriage to the actress Shelley Winters, 1952 (divorced 1954), one daughter. Career: 1943—joined the Elsa Mellini Company and made stage
Preludio d'amore (Paolucci) (as Davide); Daniele Cortis (Soldati) (title role)
La figlia del capitano (Camerini) (as Svabrin); Le avventure di Pinocchio (Guardone); L'Ebreo errante ( The Wandering Jew ) (Alessandrini) (as Mathieu Blumenthal)
Il cavaliere misterioso (Freda) (as Casanova); Riso amaro ( Bitter Rice ) (De Santis) (as Walter)
Il lupo della Sila (Coletti) (as Pietro); Una voce nel tuo cuore ( A Voice in Your Heart ) (d'Aversa) (as Paolo Baldini); I fuorilegge (Vergano) (as Turi); Ho sognato il paradiso (Pastina) (as Giorgio); Lo sparviero del Nilo (Gentilomo) (as Yusef)
Il leone di Amalfi (Francisci) (as Mauro)
Il tradimento (Freda) (as Renato Salvi); Anna (Lattuada) (as Vittorio); Il sogno di Zorro (Soldati) (as Don Antonio)
La corona negra ( La caronna nera ) (Saslavsky) (as Mauricio); La tratta delle bianche (Comencini) (as Michele)
Sombrero (Norman Foster) (as Alejandro Castillo); Cry of the Hunted (Joseph H. Lewis) (as Jory); The Glass Wall (Shane) (as Peter)
Rhapsody (Charles Vidor) (as Paul Bronte); Mambo (Rossen) (as Mario Rossi)
La donna più bella del mondo ( Beautiful but Dangerous ) (Leonard) (as Prince Sergio)
Difendo il mio amore ( Defend My Love ; I'll Defend You My Love ) (Sherman, Italian version directed by Guilio Macchi) (as Giovanni); Giovanni delle Bande Nere (Grieco) (as Giovanni d'Medici); War and Peace ( Guerra e pace ) (King Vidor) (as Anatole Kuragin)
La ragazza del palio ( The Love Specialist ) (Zampa) (as Prince Piero)
I soliti ignoti ( Big Deal on Madonna Street ; Persons Unknown ) (Monicelli) (as Peppe); La tempesta ( The Tempest ) (Lattuada) (as Pubblico Accusatore)
La grande guerra ( The Great War ) (Monicelli) (as Giovanni Busacca); La cambiale (Mastrocinque) (as Michele); Audace colpo dei soliti ignoti ( Fiasco in Milan ; Hold-up à la Milanaise ) (Loy) (as Peppe); Le sorprese dell'amore (Comencini) (as guest); The Miracle (Rapper) (as Guido)
Il mattatore ( Love and Larceny ) (Risi) (as Gerardo); Fantasmi a Roma (Pietrangeli) (as Caparra); Crimen ( . . . And Suddenly It's Murder ; Killing in Monte Carlo ) (Camerini) (as Remo)
I briganti italiani (Camerini) (as O'Caporale); Barabba ( Barabbas ) (Fleischer) (as Sahak); Il giudizio universale (de Sica) (as Cimino); Una vita difficile (Risi) (as guest)
Anima Nera (Rossellini) (as Adriano); La marcia su Roma (Risi) (as Domenico Rocchetti); "L'avaro" ep. of L'amore difficile (Lucignani) (as L'Avvocato); Il sorpasso ( The Easy Life ) (Risi) (as Bruno Cortona)
Lo smania addosso ( Eye of the Needle ) (Andrei) (as Mazzano); Il successo (Morassi) (as Giulio Ceriani); I mostri ( Opiate '67 ; 15 from Rome ) (Risi); Frenesia dell'estate (Zampa) (as Capt. Nardoni)
Se permettete parliamo di donne ( Let's Talk about Women ) (Scola) (as Proteiforme Adamo); Il gaucho (Risi) (as Mario Ravicchio); La congiuntura ( One Million Dollars ) (Scola) (as Don Giuliano)
Slalom (Salce) (as Luci Ridolfi); Una vergine per il principe ( A Maiden for the Prince ; A Maiden for a Prince ) (Festa Campanile) (as Prince don Vincenzo Gonzaga)
One ep. of La Guerre secrète ( La guerra segreta ; Spione unter sich ; The Dirty Game ; The Dirty Agents ) (Lizzani) (as Perego); L'armata Brancaleone (Monicelli) (as Brancaleone da Norcia); Il diavolo innamorato ( The Devil in Love ; L'arcidiavolo ) (Scola) (as Belfager Arcidiavolo); Le piacevoli notti (Crispini and Lucignani) (as Bastiano da Sangallo)
Il tigre ( The Tiger and the Pussycat ) (Risi) (as Francesco Vincenzini); Lo scatenato ( Catch as Catch Can ) (Indovina) (as Bob Chiaramonte); Questi fantasmi ( Ghosts, Italian Style ; Three Ghosts ) (Castellani) (as Pasquale Lojacono); "Linda" and "Two against One" eps. in Woman Times Seven ( Sette volta donna ; Sept fois femme ) (de Sica) (as Cenci); Il profeta (Risi) (as Pietro Breccia)
Dove vai tutta nuda? (Festa Campanile) (as Rafus); L'arcagelo (Capitani) (as Fulvio Bertuccia); Una su tredici ( Twelve Plus One ) (Gessner) (as Mario "Mike" Beretti); La pecora nera (Salce) (as Filippo/Giulio)
"La bomba alla televisione" ep. in Contestazione generale (Zampa) (as Riccardo); Il divorzio (Guerrieri) (as Leonardo); Brancaleone alle Crociate (Monicelli) (title role); Scipione detto anche l'Africano (Magni) (title role)
Il nome delle popolo italiano (Risi) (as Lorenzo Santenocito); L'udienza (Ferreri) (as Prince Donati)
Che c'entriamo noi con la rivoluzione? (Corbucci) (as Guido Guidi)
La Tosca (Magni) (as Scarpia)
C'eravamo tanto amati (Scola) (as Gianni); Profumo di donna ( Scent of a Woman ) (Risi) (as Capt. Fausto Censolo)
A mezzanotte va la ronda del piacere ( The Immortal Bachelor ; Midnight Pleasures ; Qui comincia l'avventura ) (Fondato) (as Andrea Sansani)
Telefoni bianchi (Risi) (as Franco Denza); Come una rosa al naso ( Pure as a Rose ) (Risi) (as Antonie Mancuso); "La bomba" ep. of Signore e signori, buonanotte (Monicelli) (as Tuttunpezzo); Le désert des Tartares ( Il deserto dei Tartari ; The Desert of the Tartars ) (Zurlini) (as Filimore); Anima persa (Risi) (as Fabio Stolz)
"Tantum Ergo," "Like a Queen," and "The Inn" eps. of I nuovi mostri ( Viva Italia! ; The New Monsters ) (Monicelli, Risi, and Scola) (several roles)
A Wedding (Altman) (as Luigi Corelli)
Quintet (Altman) (as San Cristoforo); Due pezzi di pane (Citti) (as Pippo Mifa); Caro papà (Risi) (as Albino Millozza); La terrazza (Scola) (as Mario)
Camera d'albergo (Monicelli) (as Achille Mengaroni); The Nude Bomb (Clive Donner) (as Nino Salvatore Sebastiani); Sono fotogenico (Risi)
Il turno (Ceroi) (as Ciro Coppa); Sharkey's Machine (Burt Reynolds) (as Victor)
Tempest (Mazursky) (as Alonzo)
Benvenuta (Delvaux) (as Livio Carpi)
La Vie est un roman ( Life Is a Bed of Roses ) (Resnais) (as Walter)
Le Pouvoir du mal ( The Power of Evil ; Paradigma ) (Zanussi) (as Gotfried); I soliti ignoti vent'anni dopo ( Big Deal on Madonna Street—Update ) (Todini) (as Peppe the Panther)
La famiglia ( The Family ) (Scola) (as Carlo/Carlo's Grandfather); I picari ( The Picaros ) (Monicelli) (as Baron)
Lo zio indegno ( The Sleazy Uncle ) (Brusati) (as Uncle Lucca)
Mille et une nuits ( Sheherazade ) (de Broca) (as Sinbad); Tolgo il disturbo (Risi); Come un bambino (Risi)
Dimenticare Palermo ( The Palermo Connection ) (Rosi) (as Prince)
Quando eravmo repressi ( When We Were Repressed ) (Quartullo) (as the sexologist); El Largo Invierno ( The Long Winter ) (Camino) (as Claudio)
Tutti Gli anni una volta l'anno ( Once a Year, Every Year ) (Lazotti) (as Giuseppe); Abraham (Sargent—for TV)
Sleepers (Levinson) (King Benny)
Deserto di fuoco (Castellari—for TV) (as Tarek)
La Cena (Scola) (as Maestro Pezzullo)
Luchino Visconti (Lizzani) (as himself); Astérix et Obélix contre César (Zidi); La Bomba (Base) (Don Vito Bracalone)
Kean (title role, + co-sc)
L'alibi (co-d, role as Vittorio, + co-sc)
Senzo famiglia, nullatenenti, cercano affetto . . . (as Armando, + co-sc)
Di padre in figlio
L'Altro enigma (Gassman/Tuzii)
Un grande avvenire dietro le spalle , Milan, 1981.
Vocalizzi (poems), Milan, 1988.
Memorie del sottoscala , 1990.
Mal di parola , Milan, 1992.
Camper: farsa edipica in 2 tempi e 10 rounds , Milan 1994.
"Vittorio Gassman, l'homme aux cent visages," interview and article by J. A. Gili, in Ecran (Paris), October 1975.
Interview with P.-A. Boutang, in Cinématographe (Paris), April 1982.
Interview with Dan Yakir, in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1983.
"Vittorio Gassman et le théâtre," in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), December 1987.
Degioanni, Bernard, Vittorio Gassman , Paris, 1980.
Cappelletti, Dante, Vittorio Gassman: solitudine di un mattatore , Rome 1988.
Ciro, Rita, Il mestiere di attore: la pratica artistica e i luoghi di formazione: a colloquio con Vittorio Gassman e Bernard Dort , Citta di Castello, Italy, 1992.
Gambetti, Giacomo, Un attore e la societai Vittorio Gassman , Urbino, Italy, 1994.
Lane, J. F., "Italy's Man of a Thousand Faces," in Films and Filming (London), April 1959.
Current Biography 1964 , New York, 1964.
CinemAction (Conde-sur-Noireau, France), March 1987.
Kudriavtsev, S., "Dos'e 'IK,"' in Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 4, 1991.
Rocco, N., "La 'cattiveria' di Dino Risi," in Quaderni di Cinema (Florence), April/June 1993.
Pitta, A., "Il mestiere di attore," in Nuovo , July-October 1993.
* * *
Of Austrian and Italian parentage, Vittorio Gassman appeared in dozens of stage plays before making his movie debut in Preludio d'amore . Another of his early films, Giuseppe De Santis's Riso amaro , with Gassman opposite Silvana Mangano in what was considered a shockingly erotic work, was a box-office success, focusing on Gassman's considerable international attention. After playing the role of Casanova in Il cavaliere misterioso —and while doing intermittent stage roles, many of them classical—he was again teamed with Mangano in Alberto Lattuada's Anna , another commercial success.
His handsome looks and casually arrogant manner suggested him as a leading man, and he did eventually become a matinee idol in Italy. After marrying the American actress Shelley Winters, he signed a contract with MGM and made four U.S. films, all at least respectable, though none really caught on. So Gassman returned to Italy, starring in Robert Rossen's Mambo , Robert Z. Leonard's La donna più bella del mondo , and as Anatole in King Vidor's War and Peace .
After acting in and co-directing (with Francesco Rosi) Kean , a film about the great English actor, and appearing in Lattuada's Tempest , Gassman starred in Mario Monicelli's entertaining caper satire, I soliti ignoti , playing a slaphappy ex-boxer and incompetent crook. From that point on, he specialized in comedy, garnering better reviews as a comedian than in roles as a dramatic leading man, for which he had been criticized frequently for overacting.
His favorite director has been Dino Risi, and he has worked in 15 of his films. Other directors he has publicly acknowledged his indebtedness to are Mario Monicelli, who helped Gassman change the direction of his career from strained dramatic lead to deft comedian by offering him his first comic role in I soliti ignoti ; and Ettore Scola, who cast him in each of the first four feature films he directed. Gassman also acted in two late-1970s films by American director Robert Altman, A Wedding and Quintet .
Perhaps his most triumphant performance was in Dino Risi's comedy-drama, Profumo di donna , which earned Gassman the Best Actor Award at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival for his performance as a blind rogue forced to rely on his other senses. A comeback of sorts for Gassman—critically, that is, for his career had never floundered commercially— Profumo di donna was yet another demonstration that Gassman's forte remains comedy, which brings out his joie de vivre and light touch, and short-circuits his occasional tendency to overact.