Adolfo Celi in Thunderball (1965).
27 July 1922|
Curcuraci, Messina, Sicily, Italy
|Died||19 February 1986
Siena, Tuscany, Italy
|Spouse(s)||Tônia Carrero (1951-1962) (divorced)
Marília Branco (1963-?) (divorced)
Veronica Lazar (1966-1986) (his death) 2 children
Adolfo Celi (Italian pronunciation: [aˈdɔlfo ˈtʃɛli]; 27 July 1922 –19 February 1986) was an Italian film actor and director. Born in Curcuraci, Messina, Sicily, Celi appeared in nearly 100 movies, specializing in international villains. Although a prominent actor in Italian cinema and famed for many roles, he is best remembered internationally for his portrayal of Emilio Largo in the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball. Celi later spoofed his Thunderball role in the film OK Connery (aka Operation Double 007) opposite Sean Connery's brother, Neil Connery.
Life and career
Celi became a film actor in postwar Italy. He left the Italian film industry when he emigrated to Brazil where he co-founded the Teatro Brasileiro de Comédia along with the Brazilian stage greats Paulo Autran and Tônia Carrero in São Paulo He was successful as a stage actor in Argentina and Brazil. He directed three films in South America in the 1950s, including the Brazilian hit Tico-Tico no Fubá in 1952.
Celi began a new popular career when he played the villain in Philippe de Broca's That Man from Rio where he was selected to play the villain by DeBroca on location in Rio de Janeiro. The popularity of the film led him to be cast as camp commandant Battaglia opposite Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard's Allied POWs in the 1965 World War II escape drama Von Ryan's Express. This led him to his most well known role as Largo in Thunderball. He is also known to international audiences as Ralph Valmont, one of the villans in the Mario Bava action thriller Danger: Diabolik. Celi appeared as a protagonist in some Italian comedies including Amici Miei and Brancaleone alle Crociate.
In addition to his native Italian, Celi was fluent in several languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese, but his thick Sicilian accent meant that he was usually dubbed when he appeared in English language films. For example, Robert Rietti provided his voice in both Thunderball and That Man from Rio. However, he was not dubbed in the 1981 BBC serial The Borgias, in which Celi played Rodrigo Borgia. Despite his strong Sicilian accent, his vocal parts were not dubbed and he was criticised for being hard to follow for British audiences, although his characterisation was popular.
Personal life and death
- "Adolfo Celi". The New York Times.
- Crowther, Bosley (22 December 1965). "Thunderball (1965) Screen: 007's Underwater Adventures:Connery Plays Bond in 'Thunderball'". The New York Times.
- Crowther, Bosley (23 November 1967). "O K Connery (1967) Screen: Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Reagan:New Cinema Playhouse Changes Its Fare Picture Makes a Case for the Californian 'Operation Kid Brother'". The New York Times.
- p.xxviii Sheren, Paul The Portuguese and Brazilian Theatre Motley Books, 1974
- Adler, Renata; Thompson, Howard (21 February 1968). "Movie Review". The New York Times.