Renato Rascel, 78, actor, comedian and singer whose hits include the international favorite “Arrivederci Roma,” died Jan. 2 in Rome of heart failure.

One of his last stage appearances was in 1986 with Walter Chiari in Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame.” Younger generations know him primarily for his starring role in the RAI series “Father Brown.”

Like many thesps of his generation, Rascel (whose real name was Renato Ranucci) began his career in Italo showbiz with bit parts in the “curtain-raiser” revues. The revues, performed before scheduled film screenings, gave young comedians the chance to develop their style and repertoire in skits and dance numbers.

After appearing in the successful 1939 comedy revue “E Arrivata La Bufera” (1939), Rascel teamed with top musical comedy writers Garinei and Giovannini for a series of hits: “Attanasio Cavallo Vanesio” (1955), “Rascelinaria” (choreographed Herbert Ross), “Allelluja Brava Gente,” “Tobia La Candida Spia” and “Enrico ’61.”

Rascel’s film work consisted mainly of dramatic roles. He appeared in Alberto Lattuada’s “The Overcoat,” (1952), in Mario Soldati’s “Policarpo” (1959) and with Anna Magnani in Stanley Kramer’s “The Secret Of Saint Victoria” (1969).

Wider popularity came with tv appearances in early ’60s, when he hosted RAI variety shows like “Stasera A Rascel City” and “Hallo London.” Rascel made his mark as a singer with “II Piccolo Corraziere” and “Romantica” (for which he won best song award at the San Remo songest in 1960). His “Arrivederci Roma” (which he wrote as well as sang) has entered the international pop lexicon.

Survived by his wife, Giuditta Saltarini, and a son, Cesare.

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