Carlo Giuffre, Star of Roberto Benigni's 'Pinocchio,' Dies at 89

Carlo Giuffre - Getty - H 2018
Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Getty Images

The Neapolitan actor starred in the Academy Award-nominated film 'The Girl With the Pistol' (1968).

Italian actor Carlo Giuffre, star of cinema and theater, has died in Rome after succumbing to a terminal illness, one month shy of his 90th birthday.

Giuffre, born in Naples on Dec. 3, 1928, appeared in more than 90 films throughout his career, becoming a star of both Neapolitan theater as well as Italy’s cult comedies of the 1970s.

He is best known to international audiences for his role as Geppetto in Roberto Benigni’s 2002 film Pinocchio. The pic, which was dubbed for international audiences, was a commercial flop in the U.S. but opened well in its original version in Italy. Benigni will take on the role of Geppetto next year in Matteo Garrone’s upcoming adaptation of the classic tale.

A graduate of the National Academy of Drama, Giuffre began working in theater with his brother Aldo Giuffre in 1947. He made his stage debut in 1949 opposite writer and actor Eduardo De Filippo, beginning a long collaboration with the two men that continued throughout the 1980s.

Giuffre was launched to silver-screen stardom playing opposite Monica Vitti in Mario Monicelli’s 1968 film The Girl With the Pistol, which was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign-language film.

In the 1970s, he became a key face of the so-called “Italian sexy comedies,” starring in films including La signora e stata violentata! (1973), La Signora gioca bene a scopa? (1974) and Voglia di donna (1978).

In 1981, Giuffre starred opposite Marcello Mastroianni, Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale in Liliana Cavani’s La Pelle, which opened in Cannes. In 1984, he received a David di Donatello award, Italy’s top film honor, for his role as Falcone in Maurizio Ponzi’s I Am Happy.

In 2007, Giuffre was awarded the title of Grand Officer by the President of the Republic.  

His last stage appearance was in 2015 in a theatrical adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s Schinder’s List. His last film was the 2016 Vincenzo Salemme comedy Se mi lasci non vale.

“A real artist disappears, a great Neapolitan,” said Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris of the news of his death. “The Neapolitan theater is in mourning."