Italian Screenwriter Vincenzo Cerami Dies at 72

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Vincenzo Cerami

The writer, a frequent collaborator with Roberto Benigni, earned an Oscar nomination for his work on Benigni's "Life is Beautiful."

LACCO AMENO, Ischia -- Italian author and screenwriter Vincenzo Cerami, best known for his work with Roberto Benigni on three-time Oscar winner La Vita e' Bella (Life is Beautiful), died Wednesday at the age of 72.

Cerami earned an Oscar nomination for his work on the film. He was also given a career achievement honor from Italy's David di Donatello awards earlier this year.

Cerami was a frequent collaborator with Benigni (Cerami also co-wrote Benigni's 1988 film Il Piccolo Diavolo (The Little Devil), which starred Walter Matthau, and on Il Tigre e la Neve (The Tiger and the Snow) in 2005. But the Rome-born Cerami first developed a passion for film under acclaimed Italian auteur Pier Paolo Pasolini, who was his middle school teacher. Later, Cerami married Pasolini's cousin, Graziella Chiarcossi.

Cerami first earned wide notice as a writer, after his debut novel Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo (An Average Little Man) was turned into a popular film starring Italian comic icon Alberto Sordi. All told, Cerami helped pen more than 40 films in a career dating back to the late 1960s.

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