Uno scacco tutto matto

Adolfo Celi

Adolfo Celi (July 27, 1922 February 19, 1986) was an Italian film actor and director.

Born in Messina, Sicily, Celi appeared in nearly 100 movies, specializing in international villains. His most famous role was as 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. He also appeared as a protagonist in some Italian comedies like Amici Miei and Brancaleone alle Crociate. Another well-known role of his was 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.

Celi was fluent in several languages, but his thick Sicilian accent meant that he was usually dubbed when appearing in an English language film. For example, Robert Rietti provided his voice in both Thunderball and That Man from Rio. However, in the 1981 BBC serial The Borgias, in which Celi played Rodrigo Borgia, his accent was not dubbed and he was criticised for being unintelligible and hard to follow.

During his early career, Celi was also successful as a stage actor in Argentina and Brazil, where he owned an actors' company along with the Brazilian stage greats Paulo Autran and Tonia Carrero. He directed three films in South America in the 1950s, including the Brazilian hit Tico-Tico no Fubá in 1952.

Celi was married three times. He died of a heart attack in Rome in 1986.


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