Phaedra (1962)

His appeal was more visceral. Here he is (above) with Melina Mercouri in 1962’s Phaedra. You get the general idea.

Who would have guessed that the former Raffaele Vallone, born 1916 in the southern province of Calabria, came from an aristocratic Italian family; padre was a distinguished attorney, madre an upper class beauty.

Vallone himself was no slouch, earning degrees in law and philosophy at the University of Turin. He then joined dad’s law firm despite an early passion for soccer. Vallone played in the semi-professional ranks for a while but never made the majors.

Then came journalism, sports reporting and a stint as a drama critic. He more or less backed into movie acting . His initial outing was a small uncredited role in 1942’s Noi Vivi (We The Living), a romantic drama starring Alida Valli.

The picture that launched Vallone as an international star was the 1949 neo-realistic durable, Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice), which had the actor vying with Vittorio Gassman for the affections of curvaceous Po Valley rice worker, Silvana Mangano (pictured below).

Silvana Mangano e Raf Vallone in "Riso Amaro" | Actrice italienne, Actrice,  Cinéma

By the 1960’s Vallone found himself cast opposite a formidable array of certified leading ladies including Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Anna Magnani, Mercouri, Simone Signoret and Elan Varizi, the latter Vallone’s one and only wife for 52 years.

Here he is as Loren’s lusty lover in 1960’s Lo Ciociara (Two Women).

TWO WOMEN Original Lobby Card Sophia Loren Raf Vallone | eBay

Three years later, Vallone turned up in director Otto Preminger’s The Cardinal, playing one Cardinal Querenghi (below), one of several high-level prelates the actor would play later in his career.

1964 Press Photo Italian Screen Idol Raf Vallone The Cardinal Actor |  Historic Images

Most notably Vallone can be seen currently in the Francis Coppola’s reworking of 1990’s The Godfather Part III, newly titled The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. He portrays the father-confessor of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino).

Raf Vallone in The Godfather: Part III (1990) | The godfather, The godfather  part iii, The godfather part ii

Vallone also played shadier characters as he did in 1969’s The Italian Job, starring Michael Caine. This time, he plays car-smashing Mafia boss altabani.

As the Italian Job celebrates its 50th birthday, whatever happened to its  stars? | Daily Mail Online

Vallone died of a heart attack in Rome in 2002. He once said he wasn’t afraid of dying. Rather, I am afraid of growing old.

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