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Vittorio Gassmann

Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts 1997

Actor, film and theatre producer as well as writer, Vittorio Gassmann (Genova, Italy, 1922 - Rome, Italy, 2000) is considered one of the greatest artistic innovators of our time and a moral role model for all generations.  Gassmann gave up studying Law in order to begin at the Silvio D’Amico Academy of Dramatic Arts.  In 1943, he made his professional debut in the theatre and in 1946 he starred in Jean Cocteau’s “The Typewriter”, directed by Luchino Visconti.  In these first years of his career, he divided his time between the screen and the stage. Later, in the early 1960’s, he founded the Mobile Italian Popular Theatre in which classical as well as modern plays were staged. After a short period under contract to Metro Goldwyn Mayer, he began working with American directors like Robert Altman in “A Wedding” and “Quintet”.  Among his best-known films are “Bitter Rice”, “Anna”, “Mambo” and “The Family”.

Gassmann also made films for television, such as “The Bible”, and produced more than fifty plays and scores of films in the course of his career.  He directed “La Bottega” Theatre School in Florence, which has performed in Spain on various occasions.  He also published books of poetry and his autobiography “A Great Future Behind”  received, among many other honours, the Città Eterna Award from Rome City Council.

His work met with international acclaim on numerous occasions and, among the honours he received, are the Best Actor Award (1975) at Cannes for “Scent of a Woman”, a role for which he was also nominated for an Oscar, and the Donostia Award (1988) at the San Sebastián Film Festival.  In 1996, Gassmann also received an Italian Golden Globe in recognition of his long professional career. That same year, he shared the bill with Brad Pitt, Dustin Hoffman and Robert de Niro in the film “Sleepers”, and in Italy he returned to the stage with “Body and Soul”.

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