Actor Ciccio Ingrassia, famous for a comic career spanning more than half a century died, Monday April 28 in a Rome hospital at the age of 79.
Ingrassia, who suffered from respiratory illnesses for the past two years, was best known as one component of the comic duo formed with actor Franco Franchi. Together, the team made more than 150 films. Franchi died in 1992.
The actor’s career began in the 1940s but didn’t take off until he teamed with Franchi in the late 1950s. In 1960 the two solidified a working relationship that would last for more than 40 years with the film ”Appuntamento ad Ischia” (Appointment in Ischia), directed by Mario Mattoli. Ingrassia was the ”serious” face of the comic team, where Franchi was the clown.
It was this type of play that caught the eye of directors like Federico Fellini who cast Ciccio as the memorably crazy uncle who climbs a tree shouting, “I want a woman!” in 1973’s “Amarcord.” Other roles that gained the actor notice were “Il Giudizio Universale” (The Last Judgment) by Vittorio De Sica (1961), “Kaos” by the Taviani brothers (1984), Felice Farina’s “Condominio” (Condominium) in 1991 and Leone Pompucci’s “Camerieri” (Waiters) in 1995.
The Ingrassia-Franchi duo reached a rhythm of eight to 10 films per year. The team took advantage of their ability to parody Hollywood films like “The Exorcist” with their 1975 comedy “L’Esorciccio,” where Ciccio pronounced a famous spell in which he called out to the basic ingredients of a pasta dish: ”Garlic, oil and chili pepper, vanish from this bed!” In a host of parodies, they played roles from secret agents to gringos to mafia bosses.
The duo knew increased fame through television variety show performances. Despite their prolific work, Italian critics did not always love them.
The funeral will be held Wednesday morning in Rome. Information on survivors was not immediately available.