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Rossano Brazzi

Italian actor Rossano Brazzi, a leading star of the 1950s and ‘ 60s who played Continental lovers and aristocrats on Hollywood screens, died Dec. 24 in Rome at the age of 78.

Citing family sources, Italian state television said Brazzi died from a virus afflicting his nervous system.

Brazzi, who also directed films, appeared in more than 200 movies, most of them shot in the United States.

His first Hollywood appearance was in “Little Women” (1949). But it was “The Barefoot Contessa” (1954), featuring Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart, that established him in the roles of handsome heartbreaker and aristocrat.

Another 1954 hit was “Three Coins in the Fountain.”

His many films include “Volcano” (1953), “Summertime” (1955), “Interlude” (1957), “A Certain Smile” (1958), “Count Your Blessings” (1959), “The Light in the Piazza” (1962), “Rome Adventure” (1962), “Dark Purpose” (1964), “Woman Times Seven” (1967) and “Krakatoa, East of Java” (1968).

“Rossano Brazzi will certainly be remembered as one of the few Italian actors known in America as well,” said Italian actor/director Carlo Verdone, according to Italian news agency AGI.

In the late 1960s, the Bologna native resettled in Italy to work in TV and film, but he never enjoyed the success he had won making Hollywood movies.

The actor, who played a professor in Mervyn LeRoy’s “Little Women,” once had his clothes ripped off him by some 20 fans in a Los Angeles hotel who wanted an autograph from the blue-eyed sex symbol.

Despite his fame as a heartthrob, Brazzi was insecure about his looks.

“As far as I’m concerned, if it was all today, I would have had plastic surgery, I would have made my face as I wanted it, with all I felt inside, because I never felt myself in the role of the Latin lover,” Brazzi once told an interviewer.

Brazzi made headlines in 1984 when he and 36 others were indicted in an investigation of international arms and drug smuggling. The case against him was dropped.

Survivors include his second wife, Isle Fischer. His first wife, Lydia Bertolini, died in 1981.

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