Italy's comic actor Franca dies

Rome: Franca Valeri, an elegant, ironic and versatile actor who had pioneered female comic roles in Italy's post-war years and helped the nation laugh at its foibles, died at 100. The 'Corriere della Sera' newspaper quoted her daughter, Stefania Bonfadelli, an opera singer, as saying that the actor died on August 9 in her sleep at her home in Rome, a few days after her 100th birthday.

Milanese by birth but Roman by adoption, Valeri was honored with a wake on August 10 at a theater in the Italian capital. Beloved by Italians, especially for her roles in the 1950s to the 1970s, first on radio, then on TV and in movies, Valeri was recently toasted by many celebrities and in interviews as her 100th birthday approached. President Sergio Mattarella sent a condolence message, in which he praised Valeri as a versatile and popular actor who will remain in the hearts of Italians for her great talent and her extraordinary likability.

Valeri was a sophisticated, intelligent comic interpreter of post-war Italian society and often wrote the scripts or monologues for her performances, especially on stage. Signature roles featured comic scenes in which she appeared solo, holding a phone, real or imaginary, including as 'Signorina Snob', a role for which she drew upon her Milanese bourgeois roots. Another popular comic character, which she had created in her time, poked fun at Roman middle-class vulgarities.

After decades in which comic roles were virtually the exclusive province of men, Valeri held her own against top male comic actors, starring against Toto' and Alberto Sordi.

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