Eduardo Ciannelli, sometimes credited as Edward Ciannelli, (30 August 1888 – 8 October 1969), was an Italian baritone and character actor with a long career in American films, mostly playing gangsters and criminals.
Ciannelli was born on the island of Ischia, in the Gulf of Naples, the son of a doctor who owned a health spa. He studied surgery at the University of Naples, and worked briefly as a doctor, but his love of grand opera and the dramatic stage won out and he became a successful baritone, singing at La Scala and touring Europe.
He went to America after the end of World War I and appeared on Broadway in Oscar Hammerstein II's first musical Always You and later in Rose-Marie. He appeared in Theatre Guild productions in the late 1920s, co-starring with the Lunts (Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne), and Katharine Cornell. During that period, he appeared in Uncle Vanya, The Inspector General, The Front Page. In 1935, he played Trock Estrella in Maxwell Anderson's Winterset on Broadway and repeated his performance in the film version (1936). He played Cauchon in Shaw's Saint Joan in 1936, after which he left Broadway permanently, except for one notable occasion when he returned to play in Dore Schary's The Devil's Advocate in 1961 and win the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor.
Career on screen
His Hollywood career consists of close to 150 film and television appearances. Notable among these are, Marked Woman (1937) with Bette Davis, Strange Cargo (1940) with Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, and perhaps his most famous role, as the fanatical guru in Gunga Din (1939) with Cary Grant. In the 1940 serial Mysterious Doctor Satan he played the eponymous villain, an evil scientist with an army of robots.
In the 1950s and throughout the 1960s, he divided his time among Italian films such as Attila (1954) with Anthony Quinn and Sophia Loren, Helen of Troy (1956), appearances in American TV shows such as Climax Mystery Theater, Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Johnny Staccato, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor, Dr. Kildare and a few films including Houseboat (1958), The Visit (1964), The Chase (1966) with Marlon Brando, and The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969), with Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnani, which was his last film.
Personal life and death
Ciannelli was married to Alma Wolfe from 1918 until her death (1968). They had two sons, Eduardo and Lewis E. Ciannelli, who is also an actor.
He died in Rome, and was interred in the Cimitero Flaminio.
- Bulldog Drummond's Bride (1939)
- Gunga Din (1939)
- Foreign Correspondent (1940)
- Kitty Foyle (1940)
- They Got Me Covered (1943)
- For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)
- Passage to Marseille (1944)
- The Mask of Dimitrios (1944)
- Storm Over Lisbon (1944)
- Crime Doctor's Warning (1945)
- A Bell for Adano (1945)
- Incendiary Blonde (1945)
- Joe Palooka, Champ (1946)
- Gilda (1946)
- The Lost Moment (1947)
- Prince of Foxes (1949)
- Rapture (1950)
- Pact with the Devil (1950)
- Proibito (1954)
- New Moon (1955)
- The Spy in the Green Hat (1966)
- The Ghost of Nero - The Time Tunnel episode as Count Enrico Galba (1967)
- Stiletto (1969)
- "Mackenna's Gold" (1969)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eduardo Ciannelli.|
- Eduardo Ciannelli at the Internet Movie Database
- Eduardo Ciannelli at the Internet Broadway Database
- Eduardo Ciannelli at Find a Grave