EXPIRED: 04/15/10 – Raimondo Vianello, 87, was born in Rome, the son of a naval academy Admiral. You wouldn’t think that would make him a funny sorta guy but it did and after being captured by American troops during World War II (he was part of the Italian Social Republic) , Vianello turned to comedy.
In the early days of Italian TV he partnered with Ugo Tognazzi and, in 1958, hosted the political satire show Un due tre. The government stopped it a year later when they got a little to close to ribbing the then-president of the Republic, Giovanni Gronchi.
So what does a TV star do when he blacklisted from TV? He goes to movies, naturally.
Vianello did 79 films in just under 20 years. His movies included a great portrayal of a hopeless secret agent in Il vostro superagente Flit in 1966 and Michele Lupo’s Sette volte sette in ’68. Plus he had great success by making parodies of just about every genre going. Despite making all these films, though, he was actually better known as a TV star.
So he returned to TV in the 70’s with a series of Saturday shows which made him and his wife Sandra Mondaini extremely popular on the small screen. He also hosted quiz shows, such as Zig Zag on RAI and Il gioco del 9 on Canale 5, and the 1998 edition of the Sanremo Music Festival. For eight years, from 1991 to 1999, he did hosting duties for Pressing, a Sunday night sports talk show as well.
But it was his best-known and long-lasting TV programme, Casa Vianello, a sit-com shot from 1988 to 2008 in which he and Mondaini performed as themselves, that is the most beloved amongst Italians of all ages. Many considered it “one of the few second homes open to all.”