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30 of the Greatest Italian Film Comedy Actors

Alberto Sordi

Alberto Sordi

A selection of the greatest male comedy actors from the Italian screen. A mixture of young and old, classic and modern, wordplay and slapstick, the list includes a short biography, photos, and memorable scenes on video with English subtitles. When the Italians make their best comedies they make some of THE best comedies in the movie business. Here are 30 of its funniest practitioners:

1. Diego Abatantuono

Born in Milan in 1955, the first cinema work of Diego Abatantuono was with the comedy group 'I Gatti di Vicolo Miracoli' where he came to the attention of the director Romolo Guerrieri. A part in the film 'Liberi Armati Pericolosi' in 1976 was the result with further appearances in comedies such as "Saxofone" and 'Fantozzi Contro Tutti'.

In 1980 Renzo Arbore cast him as "Don Gabriele" in 'Il Pap'occhio' and his first starring role came the following year with 'Il Tango della Gelosia' playing the lover of Monica Vitti. He then began a series of movies in a popular recurrent role of the character Terrunciello.

However, in the mid-1980s he devoted himself to theatre work until returning to film in the 'Regalo di Natale' in 1986. Diego then founded his own production company called Colorado Film, releasing many movies such as 'I Cammelli' (1988) 'Marrakech Express' (1989), 'Turné' (1990), 'Puerto Escondido' (1992), 'Nirvana' (1996), Amnèsia (2002), 'Io Non Ho Paura (2003), 'Happy Family' (2010) and 'Volare' (2019).

But it was the award-winning Mediterraneo which brought him international fame when the Gabriele Salvatores film won an Oscar for the Best Foreign Language movie in 1991. In a fine ensemble cast Diego stood out in a central performance as Sergeant Lo Russo keeping control of a group of Italian soldiers stranded and forgotten on a Greek island during WW2

Diego is also a popular figure of Italian television shows appearing regularly on the small-screen. He is also a life-long supporter of the AC Milan soccer team.

2. Antonio Albanese

Born in 1964 in Olginate in Lombardy to Sicilian parents, Antonio studied at the Civic Drama School in Milan and from there decided to pursue an acting career. His first early experience was as a stand-up comedian that started back in 1992, when he made his debut at the Zelig Theatre in Milan.

He then showcased his talent on the popular Maurizio Costanzo talk show and collaborated with fellow actor/comedian Paolo Rossi. His popularity increased after 1990 when he joined the Italia 1 show 'Mai Dire Gol', a soccer revue that took a humorous look at events in the game. Antonio was a host for 10 years. He then appeared on the show 'Che Tempo Che Fa' presented by Fabio Fazio, aired on Rai 3 and in the series 'I Topi' from 2018.

From the late 1990s, Albanese also pursued a movie career, working both as an actor and also as a director in his own right. Among his top films are 'Giorni e Nuvole' (2011), 'Qualunquemente' (2011) and 'Come un Gatto in Tangenziale' (2017). He also played a memorable role as an ageing lothario in the Woody Allen film 'To Rome with Love' in 2012.

Antonio Albanese

Antonio Albanese

3. Lino Banfi

Lino was born Pasquale Zagaria in 1936 in Andria in the Puglia region and, despite later moving to Milan in 1954, throughout his acting career his characterisations have been noted for his distinctive Bari accent. He began his career as a stand-up comedian in theatre then made his debut on TV in 1969 on Renzo Arbore's show 'Speciale Per Voi' on Rai 2-

He became one of the most well-known actors in Italian movies, especially the 'Sex Comedies' of the 1970s such as 'Peccato Veniale'(1974) and 'Infermiera Di Notte (1979). But it was in the 1980s that he reached the peak of his fame by appearing in films such as 'Vieni Avanti Cretino'(1982), 'Occhio, Malocchio, Prezzemolo e Finocchio'(1983), 'L'Allenatore Nel Pallone'(1984) and 'Il Commissario Lo Gatto'(1986).

He also portrayed a main character called Grandpa Libero in the popular TV series 'Un Medico in Famiglia' which aired for 10 seasons from 1998. During this time he also continued to have success at the cinema including the smash-hit 'Quo Vado?' in 2016 which starred Checco Zalone.

Lino and his wife Lucia have been married since 1962 and have two children, Walter and Rosanna, the latter who is also an actress and has appeared in several TV and film roles. In 2000 Lino became a Goodwill Ambassador on the Italian National Committee for UNICEF. He has appeared in over 100 movies throughout a long and prolific career.

Lino Banfi

Lino Banfi

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4. Roberto Benigni

Born in 1952 the multi-talented Roberto is a comedian, actor, screenwriter and director and made his acting debut in 1977 in 'Berlinguer Ti Voglio Bene' which he also wrote. The film was directed by Giuseppe Bertolucci.

Roberto's own directorial debut was the 1983 anthology film 'Tu mi Turbi', which was also the acting debut of his wife, Nicoletta Braschi. In 1986 he made his first English-language film 'Down by Law', written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and made two more with the director appearing in 'Night on Earth' in 1991 then 'Coffee and Cigarettes' in 2003.

In 1988, Roberto was acclaimed for the film 'Il Piccolo Diavolo', which he directed, wrote and starred in alongside Walter Matthau and Nicoletta. Roberto continued to have success and acclaim as a director with 'Johnny Stecchino' (1991), 'Il Mostro' (1994) and also portrayed the son of Inspector Clouseau's in Blake Edwards 'Son of the Pink Panther' in 1993.

He gained spectacular international recognition in 1997 for writing, directing and starring in the holocaust comedy-drama film 'Life Is Beautiful'. He received Oscars for Best Actor (the first for a male in a foreign language) and Best International Feature Film. However some later directorial efforts such as 'Pinocchio' (2002) and 'La Tigre e la Neve' (2005) received mixed reviews.

Roberto has continued to act on stage and film, touring Italy with his one-man show 'Tutto Dante', and starred in the films 'To Rome with Love' in 2012, directed by Woody Allen, and as Geppetto in Matteo Garrone's 2019 adaptation of 'Pinocchio'.

5. Massimo Boldi

Massimo was born in Luino on Lake Maggiore in 1945 and when he was still a child his family moved to Milan. In 1968 he started performing in cabarets as a drummer. and progressed to playing in Gino Paoli's orchestra as well as many other bands.

Massimo continued his drumming career at the Derby night club where he diversified into stand-up comedy with a routine that included creating funny characters that soon became popular with audiences. He took his talents to local television and joined up with fellow comedian Teo Teocoli as they performed as a double act.

Probably his most famous character was as Massima Cipollino, the incompetent and blundering presenter of a private news broadcast. But this was one of many star appearances on top Italian TV stations. He appeared in his first fictional television role, as Lorenzo Fumagalli, or 'Big Dad' in the series 'Un Ciclone in Famiglia' which ran from 2005 to 2008.

His first big success at the cinema was in Carlo Verdone's 1984 film 'I Due Carabinieri' and enjoyed further success with 'Yuppies' and 'Scuola di Ladri both released in 1986.

Another famous partnership was forged with Christian De Sica and they performed together on movie screens for around twenty years. Beginning a long run of popular Christmas films starting with 'Vacanze di Natale' in 1990 and other movies such as 'A Spasso Nel Tempo' (1996), 'Paparazzi' (1998) and 'Tifosi' (1999). In total he has appeared in over 60 movies throughout his career.

Massimo Boldi

Massimo Boldi

6. Claudio Bisio

Claudio was born in 1957 in the town of Novi Ligure, not far from Genoa, but was raised in Milan. There he attended the Cremona High School and subsequently moved on to graduate from the drama school of the Piccolo Teatro in Milan.

He actually started his career in drama, appearing in theatre performing in classical and modern productions. Then he began his movie career in 1983 with 'Come Dire', a comedy directed by Gianluca Fumagalli. Claudio's first major appearance on TV was in 1998 during the 'Zanzibarì' TV show and was the presenter of 'Zelig', a popular Italian sketch comedy, for 13 years.

He gained international exposure as the lovelorn and hapless Private Corrado Noventa in the multi-cast of Gabriele Salvatore's classic film 'Mediterraneo'. Released in 1991 it went on to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

In 2009, he played in 'Ex' and gained a David di Donatello nomination for best supporting actor. In 2010 he was the lead actor in the hugely successful film comedy 'Benvenuti al Sud', then 'Maschi Contro Femmine', both in 2010, plus the sequels 'Femmine Contro Maschi'.(2011) and 'Benvenuti al Nord'(2012).

In the dubbed Italian version of the 'Ice Age' movie series, Claudio is the voice of Sid (one of the protagonists of the film). He also provided the voice of Count Dracula in the Italian version of 'Hotel Transylvania'.

On TV in 2015 he took part in the jury for 'Italia's Got Talent' in its sixth series on Sky Uno and he continues to make movies.

Claudio Bisio

Claudio Bisio

7. Enrico Brignano

Born in Rome in 1966 Enrico graduated in 1990 at the 'Laboratorio di Esercitazioni Sceniche' founded by the famous Gigi Proietti, who later chose him for several of his plays between 1994 and 1997 and also as a sidekick in the TV-series 'Il Maresciallo Rocca'.

After appearing as a comedian in several variety shows, he had his acting breakthrough in with the role of Giacinto in 'Un Medico in Famiglia' where he appeared in the first two series.

Although mainly a stage performer, he has played a number of main roles in TV-series and films, such as 'Miracolo Italiano,' in 1994, 'In Barca a Vela Contromano' (1997), South Kensington (2001), 'Un Estate al Mare' (2008), 'La Vita è una Cosa Meravigliosa' (2010), 'Stai Lontana da Me' (2013) and 'Poveri ma Ricchi' (2016)

Spreading his wings further, in 2000 he directed, wrote and starred in the romantic comedy 'Si Fa Presto a Dire Amore'. In 2013 he provided the voice of Olaf the snowman for the Italian translation of Disney's 'Frozen' cartoon. He has even become a successful stand-up comedian including popular monologues on RAI TV.

Enrico Brignano

Enrico Brignano

8. Adriano Celentano

Born in Milan in 1938 he is another multi-faceted legend of Italian popular culture. Adriano is a successful singer-songwriter and musician as well as being a famous actor and film director. He has released a total of 29 music albums which have enjoyed prodigious success both commercially and critically and is even credited with introducing rock n' roll into Italy.

In 1960 he had a small part in Fellini's classic 'La Dolce Vita' appropriately playing a rock n' roll singer. But as an actor Adriano has appeared in mostly comedies, often low-budget but hugely popular, in the domestic market especially in the 1970s and 80s.

Some of the most successful were 'Le Cinque Giornate' in 1973, 'Bluff' (1976), 'Mani di Velluto' (1979), 'Il Bisbetico Domato' (1980), 'Asso' (1981), 'Innamorato Pazzo' (1981) and 'Bingo Bongo (1982). But in terms of accolades, out of his 39 movies, his role in 'Serafino' in 1968, directed by Pietro Germi, is still regarded as his best performance.

His daughter Rosalinda is an actress and gained worldwide fame for playing Satan in Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ'. Plus fans of the band Ian Dury and the Blockheads may recognise Adriano's name as he was mentioned in their 1979 hit single, 'Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3'.


9. Eduardo De Filippo

Born in 1900 in Naples, also known simply as Eduardo, he was an Italian actor, director, playwright, and screenwriter, who was regarded as one of the most important and influential Italian artistes of the 20th century.

He made over 50 movies on both sides of the screen as actor and director and was best known for his Neapolitan works in the early 50s, 'Napoli Milionaria'(1950) 'Filumena Marturano' (1951) and 'Ragazze da Marito' (1952),

He was also was the author of many theatrical dramas staged and directed by himself. However in 1973, it was a Franco Zeffirelli production in London of one of his plays 'Saturday, Sunday, Monday' starring Sir Laurence Olivier that gained him international attention.

For his outstanding work in theatre and film and his important contribution to Italian culture, he was named 'Senatore a Vita' in 1981 by Sandro Pertini, the Italian President at the time. Eduardo passed away in 1984 but his son Luca continued the family tradition by also becoming a successful actor and director

Eduardo De Filippo

Eduardo De Filippo

10. Peppino De Filippo

Peppino was born in Naples 1903 and came from a family with an enormous pedigree in popular entertainment. Both his parents were in the business and his brother was the celebrated actor/director Eduardo De Filippo. His sister Titina De Filippo was also a successful actress and playwright.

Peppino made his stage debut at the age of six and embarked on a theatrical career in his youth. Eventually the family would found their own theatrical company the 'Compagnia Teatro Umoristico: i De Filippo'..

He played in several movies such as 'Rome-Paris-Rome'(1951), 'La Famiglia Passaguai'(1951), 'Un Giorno in Pretura'(1954), 'Ferdinando I Re di Napoli'(1959) and 'Boccaccio 70'(1962). He is however most remembered for his several onscreen comedy partnerships with the legendary Totò, on movies such as 'La Banda Degli Onesti' and 'Totò, Peppino e la Malafemmina'.

He died in Rome in January 1980 at the age 76 after an incredibly prolific career which saw him appear in almost 100 movies and over 40 theatre productions.

11. Christian de Sica

Born in Rome in 1951 Christian was the son of the celebrated Italian director Vittorio De Sica and Spanish actress María Mercader. In his youth he attended the Liceo classico in the Eternal City where he was a classmate of Carlo Verdone. A talented singer, he is a great admirer of Frank Sinatra and sang at the Sanremo Festival in 1973.

However, he decided to throw himself into acting and developed his own style of comedy on TV in the 1970s, with programmes such as 'Bambole, non c'è una lira' He then graduated into populist comedy movies with a string of successes with the 'Vacanze di Natale' series of films, also 'A Spasso nel Tempo' in 1996, 'Paparazzi' (1998) and Tifosi (1999)

In the 1990s Christian also turned his hand to direction, with a prolific output beginning with 'Faccione' in 1991, in which he also wrote the script. He continued in the same year with 'Count Max' then Ricky & Barabba (1992), 'Uomini Uomini Uomini'(1995), 'Tre' (1996), 'Simpatici & Antipatici' (1998) and The Clan (2005).

Two idiosyncratic family facts about Christian are that he named his first child Brando in honour of the legendary American actor and that his uncle was Ramón Mercader, the murderer of Leon Trotsky.

Christian de Sica

Christian de Sica

12. Aldo Fabrizi

Born in Rome in 1905 Aldo made his debut on stage in 1931. He soon got local success thanks to his comical sketches and caricatures and became a star of the Roman Revue. He enjoyed great success in music halls and variety theatre during his early years.

He broke into movies in 1942 and in a short time established himself as one of the most talented actors of the time switching between comedy and drama. After a number of successful comedies, he played the iconic Don Pietro Pellegrini alongside the great Italian actress Anna Magnani in the neo-realist drama 'Rome, Open City'. Directed by another Italian great, Roberto Rossellini, it was released in 1945 and the success of the movie led to leading roles for Aldo in other neorealist films.

Already active as a screenwriter, in 1948 he debuted as a director with the drama 'Emigrantes'. Then in the 1950s and 1960s he often appeared on-screen with the famous duo Totò and Peppino. In 1964 he enjoyed great success on the stage with the musical comedy 'Rugantino'.

He was held in great affection by the Italian public and was an extremely popular artist and personality. In his later years he devoted himself to writing about his passion for food by publishing books and poems on the subject. He died at the age of 85 years old in Rome in 1990.

Aldo Fabrizi

Aldo Fabrizi

13. Vittorio Gassman

Vittorio was born in Genoa in 1922 and from a German family, hence the surname, and was not only an actor but also a director and screenwriter: However he is considered one of the greatest Italian actors as a performer of great comic skill, personality and charisma.

While he was still very young he moved to Rome, where he studied at the Silvio D'Amico National Academy of Dramatic Arts.

In the 1950s he met and fell in love with American actress Shelley Winters while she was touring Europe and he followed her back to Hollywood where they got married. A fluent English speaker he joined the Tinseltown elites and starred in movies such as 'The Glass Wall'(1953), 'Rhapsody' (1954) with Elizabeth Taylor and 'War and Peace (1956) before returning back to Italy. Unfortunately, after he had an affair, the marriage only lasted 2 years.

Back home he had a leading role in 1958 in the now classic comedy 'I Soliti Ignoti' alongside Marcello Mastroianni, a young Claudia Cardinale and the legendary Toto. Other memorable movies included: 'Il Sorpasso' and 'La Grande Guerra' both in (1962), 'I Mostri' (1963), 'L'Armata Brancaleone' (1966), 'Profumo di Donna' and and 'C'eravamo Tanto Amati' both in 1974.

He also made a return to Hollywood appearing with Burt Reynolds in 'Sharky's Machine' in 1981, 'Tempest (1982) and 'Sleepers' (1996)

In the 1990s he took part in the popular Rai TV show 'Tunnel'. He also provided dubbing in the Italian language versions of a couple of famous movies, being the narrator in Zeffirelli's 'Romeo and Juliet' in 1968, substituting for Laurence Olivier. Then in 1994 as Mufasa (James Earl Jones) in 'The Lion King'.

In all, he appeared in over 120 movies and continued acting right up to his death in the year 2000 at the age of 77.

14. Mario Girotti (aka Terence Hill)

Although he became internationally known as Terence Hill in later life, he was born Mario Girotti in 1939 in Venice. He is an actor, screenwriter, film director and producer.

Mario started his career as a child actor in the early 1950s and went on to appear and star in many Italian movies during a busy decade for him. Many were youthful love stories or historical dramas such as 'Aannibale' (1959) and 'Cartagine in Fiamme' (1960). Then in 1963 he had a role in Visconti's 'The Leopard' which starred Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale

His anglicised stage name was at the request of film producers in 1967 to make his movies more attractive to an English-speaking audience. Subsequently he gained international fame for starring roles in action and comedy films, many with long-time film partner and friend Carlo Pedersoli who also changed his name, becoming Bud Spencer.

Their most memorable movies were the 'Westerns all'Italiana', colloquially called "Spaghetti Westerns". These began with 'God Forgives ....I Don't' in 1967 then 'Django, Prepare a Coffin' in 1968. Of the westerns, the most famous are 'They Call Me Trinity' from 1970 and 'Trinity is Still My Name (1971). Terence also starred on his own in 'My Name Is Nobody' (1973) alongside Henry Fonda.

The hits for Hill and Spencer continued with the stateside comedy 'Odds and Evens' in 1978 but less success followed for the duo with 'I'm for the Hippopotamus' (1979), 'Who Finds a Friend Finds a Treasure' (1981) and 'Go For It' (1983).

In his old age Mario went on to a successful television career in Italy. From the year 2000, he played the title role as a priest in the TV series 'Don Matteo', a Father Brown type character who helps the police solve crimes. A role he held for 20 years.

15. Ezio Greggio

Born in Cossato, a small town near Biella, Greggio began his TV career at age 18. In 1978 he was hired by RAI as a comedian and appeared in 'La Sberla e Tutto Compreso' alongside Giancarlo Nicotra and Giancarlo Magalli.

Gianfranco D'Angelo, another young comedian, convinced him to move to the nascent network Fininvest (which later became Mediaset), a local TV channel founded in Milan by local entrepreneur Silvio Berlusconi. They were both in the cast of the flagship programme 'Drive In', a 2-hour weekly show which brought them great success.

Ezio wrote and acted in his first movie, 'Sbamm!' in 1980. He was noticed by Carlo Vanzina, and was included in the cast of 'Yuppies' (1986) and in the 1987 film 'Montecarlo Gran Casinò' with Paolo Rossi.

In 1994, he made his debut as a director with 'The Silence of the Hams', a parody of horror movies, filmed in the USA and inspired by 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Psycho'. During this time, Greggio forged friendships with Mel Brooks and Dom DeLuise who both appeared in the movie. Brooks named one of Dom De Luise's killers in his Robin Hood: Men in Tights, "Dirty Ezio", and also cast him in the movie 'Dracula: Dead and Loving It'.

In 1997, Ezio went back behind the camera, directing 'The Good Bad Guy' and in 1999 'Screw Loose', with Mel Brooks appearing in an acting role. On TV, from 1988, he was the main presenter (along with D'Angelo and later Enzo Iacchetti) of 'Striscia la Notizia', a very popular satirical show.

Ezio Greggio

Ezio Greggio

16. Nino Manfredi

Manfredi was born in 1921 into a family of farmers in the village of Castro dei Volsci not far from Rome where, in the 1930s the family relocated. This was where Nino made his stage debut in 1947, appearing in plays directed by Luigi Squarzina and Vito Pandolfi. The same year, he entered the Maltagliati-Gassman stage company, mostly acting in dramatic roles.

In 1958 he got his first film role as a leading actor, then from the latter half of the 1960s became a box office success in Italy, starring in some of the most popular and critically acclaimed films in the 'Commedia all'Italiana' genre.

Following his last film as director 'Nudo di Donna' in 1981 he appeared in two commercial hit films when he starred alongside Renato Pozzetto in 'Testa o Croce' (1982) and 'Questo e Quello' (1983). In the 1980s Manfredi significantly slowed his cinema activities and after a long struggle with illness he died in 2004, aged eighty-three years old.