One hundred years ago – 23 March 1922 – Ugo Tognazzi was born in Cremona. Actor, director, comedian, screenwriter, he was one of the most important and unforgettable protagonists of Italian comedy, awarded with a Palme d’Or at Cannes, three David di Donatello and four Nastro d’Argento awards. His hometown celebrates him, actor and man, with a packed schedule of events sponsored by a group of Companies, which Ocrim just had to be a part of.
The first of a long series of initiatives that Cremona wanted to dedicate to one of its favourite sons, the actor Ugo Tognazzi (1922-1990), has just ended. Three days of cultural events organised by the Municipality of Cremona in collaboration with the Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage of the University of Pavia, Cremona branch. The main event was an international conference attended by no less than 30 university professors and film experts from all over the world, who discussed the figure of Ugo Tognazzi, a worthy representative, together with Alberto Sordi, Vittorio Gassman, and Nino Manfredi of Italian-style comedy. This film genre developed in Italy between the ‘50s and ‘70s enjoyed great success for its comic portrayal of the (few) vices and virtues of the Italian middle class of the time, thanks to the participation of exceptional performers. A splice of real-life with brilliant social satire, characterised by a substantial underlying bitterness. Actor, comedian, director, performer, screenwriter, over his long and rich television and cinema career, Ugo Tognazzi stood out for his interpretative versatility, ranging from farce to drama, with a rare and personal flair for portraying different characters. It would take too long to list the numerous awards that made films such as “La Califfa [Lady Caliph]”, “I mostri [The Monsters]”, “La bambolona [Baby Doll]”, “Amici miei [My Friends]”, “Il vizietto [La Cage aux Folles]” immortal, so we will only mention the Palme d’Or won at the Cannes Film Festival for the film “La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo [The Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man]”.
The Ministry of Economic Development with the Italian Post Office have issued, on this occasion, a commemorative stamp belonging to the thematic series “the Italian Excellence of the Show” dedicated to Ugo Tognazzi.
A Playful Nature
Ugo had a close bond with his hometown, he often came to Cremona to spend time with childhood friends, and his characters often spoke in the Cremonese dialect. His lines in the film “La marcia su Roma [March on Rome]” are legendary. In addition to celebrating the performer, Cremona also wishes to pay tribute to the man, his playful nature and his passion for cooking with other food-related events scheduled for the upcoming months of October and November. Ugo surrounded himself with the people he loved: his extended family, he had three wives and four children, friends and co-workers. He was known for his “adunate”: summer gatherings at his villa in Torvaianica, where he would entertain showbiz friends of the calibre of Paolo Villaggio, Bernardo Bertolucci, Vittorio Gassman, Luciano Salce, Mario Monicelli and many others with endless feasts and hard-fought tennis tournaments. Ugo would roll his sleeves up in the kitchen and prepare fine dishes for his guests, who then had the honour of voting for the best recipe; for any less successful dish, the reactions of an angry Ugo were worthy of his most controversial characters. He was a theatrical man performing to a crowd of theatrical people; with every gesture, he expressed his ironic and pleasure-seeking nature, like his idea of awarding a “golden pasta colander” to the winner of his famous tennis tournaments. For 25 years, this was his exclusive and surreal version of the Davis Cup silver bowl.