Franco Tonelli, 56, professor of drama, film studies and French at the U. of California, Irvine, died Jan. 22 in Laguna Beach of cancer.
He started his career as an actor with several Italian theater companies in Europe. He came to the United States to earn a Ph. D. in French at Louisiana State U. and joined the UCI faculty in 1966. He chaired the department of French and Italian and was founder and director of the film studies program.
In 1983, he received the UCI Distinguished Teaching Award.
He wrote several books in English, French and Italian on 20th century French theater and Greek tragedy and served as a consultant to the Theater of Rome. He wrote “Hollywood’s Salute To Pirandello,” which ran in Los Angeles.
In 1986 and ’87, he was a visiting professor at UCLA, where he helped set up the Center for Advanced Research in the Performing Arts.
Survived by his wife, Beverly, his parents, a brother and two sisters.