Belgian-Italian actress Catherine Spaak, muse of post-war Italian comedy, died on Sunday at the age of 77, the Rai television channel of which she was a popular face reported on Monday.
Victim in 2020 of a cerebral hemorrhage, she died in a Roman clinic, according to Italian media.
Daughter of Belgian screenwriter Charles Spaak and French actress Claudie Clèves, niece of former Belgian Prime Minister Paul-Henri Spaak, one of Europe’s “founding fathers”, Catherine Spaak was born on April 3, 1945 in Boulogne, France. -Billancourt, in the western suburbs of Paris.
She toured with Jacques Becker (“Le trou”) before leaving for Italy where she became an actress and star presenter both in cinema and on television.
“I didn’t want to be an actress but a classical dancer, unfortunately I was too tall at the time. But doing this job saved me,” she said after her hemorrhage in one of her last interviews.
She appears in “The Fanfaron” by Dino Risi, “The nine-tailed cat” by Dario Argento, “Week-end à Zuydcoote” by Henri Verneuil or even “Scandale secret” by Monica Vitti. In total, she will shoot in 80 feature films for cinema and television.
Singer, she notably recorded in 1963 “Quelli della mia età”, an adaptation of “Tous les Garçons et les Filles” by Françoise Hardy.
In the 1980s she devoted herself to television as a host / presenter and participated in the 2000s in reality TV shows. From 1988 to 2002, she hosted a “talk show” for women on Rai 3, where she received, among others, Catherine Deneuve, Monica Bellucci, Isabel Allende and Ornella Muti.
“Farewell to sensuality and rebellion,” the major daily La Repubblica reacted on Monday.
On Twitter, the president of the Cannes festival Pierre Lescure paid tribute to her “youthful and free beauty” while the writer Henry-Jean Servat hailed “the eternal adolescent of Italian cinema”.
“Heroine of tangy comedies where her wild charm and her chubby pouts worked wonders, she embodies with pep the sparkling epic of the Dolce vita”, he wrote.
In Italy, the Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini spoke of “an eclectic, cultured and elegant artist who had found in our country a home that welcomed and loved her”.