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Leopoldo Trieste

Italian character actor and playwright

Versatile Italian character actor and playwright Leopoldo Trieste, whose film work includes Federico Fellini’s “I Vitelloni” and Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso,” died Jan. 25 in a Rome clinic after a cardiac arrest. He was 85.

In addition to his roles with Fellini, who plucked the actor from the theater to star in “The White Sheik” in 1952, Trieste is best remembered for his performances in Pietro Germi’s classic comedies “Divorce, Italian Style” and “Seduced and Abandoned.”

Other notable roles in a career of some 160 films include Nanni Loy’s “Un Giorno da leoni,” Massimo Franciosa and Pasquale Festa Campanile’s “White Voices,” Dino Risi’s “The Sign of Venus,” Steno’s “A Day in Court” and “An American in Rome,” Luigi Zampa’s “A Question of Honor,” Mario Monicelli’s “Il Marchese del Grillo” and Tinto Brass’ “Caligula.”

The actor also appeared in a number of films by international directors including Charles Vidor’s “A Farewell to Arms,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II,” Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now,” Carroll Ballard’s “The Black Stallion” and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “The Name of the Rose.”

Trieste’s most recent roles included Roberto Faenza’s “Marianna Ucria,” Emidio Greco’s “The Egyptian Counsel” and Daniele Cipri and Franco Maresco’s upcoming “Cagliostro.”

He won the Italian film critics Nastro d’Argento Award for best supporting actor for his role in Tornatore’s “The Star Maker” in 1995.

Trieste also experimented as a director with two unsuccessful attempts: “Citta di notte” in 1956 and “Il Peccato degli anni verdi” in 1960.

Native of Reggio Calabria, Italy, started in legit and after WWII co-wrote and appeared in his first pic, “Love Prelude,” in 1946, but it wasn’t until Fellini plucked him from the theater to star in “The White Sheik” that Trieste made an impact on films. Over the course of his 56-year career he also scripted 11 films and was a well-regarded playwright whose work has been produced extensively both in Italy and abroad.