Raf Vallone

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Raf Vallone

Raf Vallone 1949.jpg
Vallone in Bitter Rice (1949)
Raffaele Vallone

(1916-02-17)17 February 1916
Died31 October 2002(2002-10-31) (aged 86)
Rome, Italy
Alma materUniversity of Turin
Occupation(s)Actor, football player, journalist
Years active1942–2000
(m. 1952)
Children3, including Eleonora (b. 1955)
Awards1962 David di Donatello for Best Actor (A View from the Bridge)
HonoursCordone di gran Croce OMRI BAR.svg Knight's Grand Cross of the Italian Republic
Association football career
Position(s) Midfielder
Youth career
1930-1934 Torino
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1934-1939 Torino 23 (4)
1939-1940 Novara 7 (0)
1940-1941 Torino 2 (0)
Total 32 (4)
Medal record
Men's football
Coppa Italia
Winner 1935–36
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Raffaele Vallone (17 February 1916 – 31 October 2002) was an Italian actor and footballer. One of the top male Italian stars of the 1950s and '60s, he first became known for his association with the neorealist movement, and found success in several international productions. On stage, he was closely associated with the works of Arthur Miller. He played the role of Eddie Carbone in A View from the Bridge several times, notably in Sidney Lumet's 1962 film adaptation, for which he won the David di Donatello for Best Actor.

Early life[edit]

Vallone was born in Tropea, Calabria, the son of a lawyer, and moved to Turin at an early age. He attended Liceo classico Cavour and studied law and philosophy at the University of Turin, where his professors included Leone Ginzburg and future President Luigi Einaudi. After graduation, he was employed at his father's law firm.

In 1941, Vallone became the culture editor for the culture section of L'Unità, then the official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party, and also a film and drama critic for the Turin newspaper La Stampa. An anti-fascist, he joined the Italian resistance organization Giustizia e Libertà in 1943, after the Badoglio Proclamation.[1][2][3] He was arrested and incarcerated in Como, but escaped during a prisoner transfer, swimming across Lake Como in the process.[1]


Vallone played association football from a young age, as a member of the Unione Libera Italiana del Calcio (ULIC) youth club for Turin, winning the championship for the 1930–31 season. He began playing professionally in 1934 while still a law student, entering Serie A for Torino F.C. as a midfielder. He won the Coppa Italia with his team in the 1935–36 season.[4] He played for Novara in the 1939–40 season, and retired after 1941.[5]

Acting career[edit]

Vallone made his film debut in 1942 as an extra in We the Living, but he was not initially interested in an acting career. Nevertheless, he was cast as a soldier competing with Vittorio Gassman for the love of Silvana Mangano in Riso amaro (Bitter Rice) (1949).[2] The film became a neorealist classic and Vallone was launched on an international career.

He played rugged, romantic leading man in the 1950s, including in Anna (1951) and The Beach (1954), both directed by Alberto Lattuada; Pietro Germi's The Crossroads (1951), and Giuseppe De Santis' Rome 11:00 (1952). He played Giuseppe Garibaldi, opposite Anna Magnani as Anita Garibaldi, in Francesco Rosi's directorial debut Red Shirts (1952). He was the male lead in Vittorio De Sica's Two Women, which earned its star Sophia Loren the Academy Award for Best Actress. His screen persona and acting style were often likened to those of Burt Lancaster.[2] Curzio Malaparte, who directed him in The Forbidden Christ (1951), called Vallone "the only Marxist face in Italian cinema."

Vallone's work extended to other parts of Europe. He played opposite Maria Schell in two West German films, Love (1956) and Rose Bernd (1957), and was cast by French director Marcel Carné in Thérèse Raquin (1953). In 1956, Luis César Amadori cast him as the star of The Violet Seller, a landmark Spanish musical that was the most internationally successful Spanish-language film released up to that point.

He made his American film debut opposite Charlton Heston in the 1961 historical epic El Cid, as Count Ordóñez. He subsequently starred in Jules Dassin's Phaedra (1962), Otto Preminger's The Cardinal (1963) and Rosebud (1975), Gordon Douglas' Harlow (1965), Henry Hathaway's Nevada Smith (1966), Peter Collinson's The Italian Job (1969), John Huston's The Kremlin Letter (1970), Lamont Johnson's A Gunfight (1971), Charles Jarrott's The Other Side of Midnight (1977), J. Lee Thompson's The Greek Tycoon (1978), Michael Ritchie's An Almost Perfect Affair (1979) and Moustapha Akkad's Lion of the Desert (1980). He had a late career boost when Francis Ford Coppola cast him as Cardinal Lamberto, the future Pope John Paul I, in The Godfather Part III (1990).

On stage, Vallone was known for his association with playwright Arthur Miller, notably as Eddie Carbone in A View from the Bridge. He first played the role in Peter Brook's acclaimed 1958 staging in Paris at the Théâtre Antoine-Simone Berriau. He reprised it for Sidney Lumet's 1962 film adaptation, which earned him the David di Donatello for Best Actor; a 1966 ITV Play of the Week, a 1967 Italian staging that he also directed, and a 1973 version for Italian television. In 1980, he directed a production for the Théâtre de Paris.

In 1994, he was made a Knight's Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic for his contributions to the arts.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Vallone was married to actress Elena Varzi from 1952 until his death. They had three children, two of whom are actors, Eleonora Vallone (born 1955) and Saverio Vallone (born 1958).[3] The family lived for many years at a villa constructed near Sperlonga. During the late '50s, Vallone was romantically entangled with Brigitte Bardot.[7]

Though an avowed communist for much of his life, Vallone was never an enrolled member of the Italian Communist Party, due to his opposition to Stalinism.

In 2001, he published his autobiography, L'alfabeto della memoria, with Gremese (Rome).


Vallone died from a heart attack in Rome on 31 October 2002. His body was buried at his family chapel in the municipal cemetery of Tropea, his birth place.



  1. ^ a b Molinelli, Edoardo (2020). Cuori partigiani. Rome: Hellnation libri. p. 70. ISBN 978-886718-220-6.
  2. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas (2 November 2002). "Raf Vallone, Rugged Star of Italian Films, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b Lane, John Francis (1 November 2002). "Obituary: Raf Vallone". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Coppa Italia 1935/36". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 October 2022.
  5. ^ "Coppa Italia 1937/38". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 October 2022.
  6. ^ "VALLONE, Raffaele".
  7. ^ Bardot, Brigitte (1997). Mi chiamano B.B. Bombiani Editore. ISBN 88-452-3092-9.

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