At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Sergio Tòfano – actor and illustrator

The many talents of stage and screen star


Sergio Tofano as Professor Toti, in Luigi  Pirandello's comic play Pensaci, Giacomino!
Sergio Tòfano as Professor Toti, in Luigi
 Pirandello's comic play Pensaci, Giacomino!
Comic actor, director, writer and illustrator Sergio Tòfano died on this day in 1973 in Rome.

He is remembered as an intelligent and versatile theatre and film actor and also as the creator of the much-loved cartoon character Signor Bonaventura, who entertained Italians for more than 40 years.

Tòfano was born in Rome in 1886, the son of a magistrate, and studied at the University of Rome and the Academy of Santa Cecilia. He made his first appearance on stage in 1909.

He soon specialised as a comic actor and worked with a string of famous directors including Luigi Almirante and Vittorio de Sica.
  
He became famous after his performance as Professor Toti in Luigi Pirandello’s comic play, Pensaci, Giacomino! 

Also a talented artist and writer, Tòfano invented his cartoon character Signor Bonaventura for the children’s magazine, Il Corriere dei Piccoli, signing himself as Sto.

Signor Bonaventura made his first appearance in 1917. The character wore a red frock coat and a hat and his fans interpret him as showing how good people, despite making mistakes, can avoid the bad outcome they seem fated to experience, even in complicated situations, because there is always hope.

Tofano's invention, the cartoon character Signor Bonaventura
Tòfano's invention, the cartoon
character Signor Bonaventura
After the Second World War Tòfano continued to act, working with important directors such as Luchino Visconti and Giorgio Strehler at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan performing in plays by Ibsen and Shakespeare. He also took parts in plays by Molière and Goldoni at the Teatro dei Satiri in Rome.

Tòfano has a string of film and television credits to his name, his most successful films including Goffredo Alessandrini’s 1934 comedy Seconda B, the Raffaello Matarazzo drama Giù il Sipario (1940) and Partner (1968), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and based on the on the novel The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

He continued to act until his death at the age of 87, having survived his wife, Rosetta, a costume designer he married in 1923, by 13 years.

Before 1935, Rome University's base was in the Palazzo della Sapienza, near Piazza Navona
Before 1935, Rome University's base was in
the Palazzo della Sapienza, near Piazza Navona
 
Travel tip:

Rome University, where Tòfano studied, is often known simply as La Sapienza, which means ‘the wisdom’.  It can trace its origins back to 1303, when it was opened by Pope Boniface VIII as the first pontifical university. In the 19th century the University broadened its outlook and started to offer more than just ecclesiastical studies. Today’s campus was built near the Termini railway station in 1935. Rome University now caters for more than 112,000 students.

Travel tip:

The Piccolo Teatro della Città di Milano, where Tòfano performed regularly after it was founded in 1947, was Italy’s first permanent repertory company. It now operates from three venues in Milan, the Teatro Grassi, the Teatro Studio and the Teatro Strehler.





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