Italy celebrates 100 years of Alberto Sordi

Rome remembers the much-loved Roman actor Alberto Sordi on his centenary.

Alberto Sordi, an icon of Italian cinema, was born in Rome on 15 June 1920, a century ago today.

Sordi played mainly comic roles, enlivened by his Roman accent which was to be a trademark throughout a career that spanned seven decades.

Indeed much of his cinematic success was thanks to his strong accent which, ironically, saw him expelled from a Milan acting academy in his youth.

Alberto Sordi 1920-2003

Sordi often chose to portray the anti-hero, poking fun at the foibles of his fellow countrymen and succeeding in getting Italians to laugh uproariously at themselves.

Beginnings

In addition to being an actor, Sordi was a singer, voice actor, director and screenwriter.

He began his journey into comedy by providing the dubbed-over voice of comedian Oliver Hardy in 1939, a role he played until 1951, in more than 40 Laurel and Hardy films in Italy. This role proved so popular that Sordi adapted it for theatres, allowing Italians to meet the "real" Oliver Hardy on stage.

Success and awards

Minor film roles followed in the 1940s until he gained national stardom in 1953 when he was cast in a leading role in I vitelloni by Federico Fellini, whose centenary also takes place in 2020.

Huge success followed with classics such as Un americano a Roma (1954) and Il Marchese del Grillo (1981).

Sordi was the recipient of seven David di Donatello awards, Italy's most prestigious film accolade, as well as receiving a Golden Globe for his performance in To Bed or Not to Bed in 1963 and a Golden Lion lifetime achievement award at the Venice Film Festival in 1995.

Roman roots

Although loved across Italy, Sordi was particularly adored in his home town. He remained firmly attached to his Roman roots and spent his life living in Rome.

Alberto Sordi in Un americano a Roma

The actor was born in Trastevere, the youngest of five children, to a concert musician and a teacher. The building where he was born - number 7 on Via S. Cosimato - no longer exists (it was demolished in the 1930s to make way for the Palazzo dei Congregazioni) however a plaque commemorating his birth can be found across the street.

From 1958 Sordi lived with his two sisters Aurelia and Savina in a villa near the Baths of Caracalla.

Rome bids fond farewell to a favourite son

In 2000, to celebrate his 80th birthday, the city of Rome made Sordi honorary mayor for a day.

When he died in 2003, aged 82, there was an immense outpouring of grief in Rome, with more than 250,000 people attending his funeral at the Basilica di S. Giovanni in Laterano.

Rome subsequently renamed the prestigious Galleria Colonna, on Via del Corso, in honour of one of its favourite sons.

Sordi centenary exhibition in Rome

To celebrate Sordi's great legacy, the city will hold a centenary exhibition at the actor's former residence. The multimedia show was to have opened in March however, due to the covid-19 emergency, its opening has been postponed until 16 September.

The show will be held in various rooms of Sordi's private villa, which has never been open to the public before, until 31 January 2021.