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Stolen Corpse of Italian TV Legend Found in a Ditch

Mike Bongiorno - P 2002

The body of Quiz King Mike Bongiorno was stolen in a ghoulish robbery of his tomb last January.

ROME – The body of Italian Quiz King Mike Bongiorno, which was stolen in a ghoulish robbery of his tomb last January, was discovered abandoned in its damaged coffin in a ditch near Milan.

The discovery at least partially ends nearly 11 months of mystery surrounding the fate of the coffin and body of one of Italy’s most beloved television personalities.

Bongiorno’s death two years ago at the age of 85 set off a period of mourning in Italy, where he lay in repose at the Triennale in Milan ahead of a formal state funeral. Mysteriously, Bongiorno’s family tomb was raided and ransacked in January and the coffin and body were removed.

During the ensuing investigation, police were unable to attach a motive to the events, or to yield any suspects. Bongiorno’s family said they would cremate his remains to make it impossible for whoever was behind the January robbery to repeat the grizzly crime.

Bongiorno was born to Italian parents in New York, but moved with his family to Turin at a young age. He started work as a radio journalist in 1946 before turning to television in 1953 on the day state broadcaster RAI started operating. He was a familiar face to four generations of Italians as the host of sores of quiz and game shows plus musical and comedy specials and awards programs.

Bongiorno is also credited with giving Mediaset, the broadcast giant founded and controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, credibility in 1979 when he left RAI to join the fledgling Mediaset operations.