Paolo Villaggio; fused pathos, slapstick

epa06062819 (FILE) - Italian actors Paolo Villaggio (L) ad Roberto Benigni (R) in a scene from the movie 'La voce della Luna' (The Voice of the Moon) directed by Federico Fellini in Rome, Italy, 06 June 1989 (reissued 03 July 2017). Italian actor Paolo Villaggio, best known for his role as Ugo Fantozzi, died at the age of 84 in Rome, on 03 July 2017, his family said. EPA/OLDPIX
Paolo Villaggio (left) starred with Roberto Benigni in “La Voce della Luna’ (The Voice of the Moon),’’ Federico Fellini’s last film.

ROME — Paolo Villaggio, a comic actor whose invented workplace characters interpreted Italians’ foibles, died Monday in Rome at 84.

His children said Mr. Villaggio had been debilitated by complications of diabetes.

Widely popular in Italy, Mr. Villaggio expressed his comic qualities through slapstick, satire, and irony.


Fellow comic actor Roberto Benigni said Mr. Villaggio’s iconic character, accountant Ugo Fantozzi, ‘‘represented us all.’’ Mr. Villaggio invented the character, first in a book, then as the main character in 10 films.

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‘‘He was a pitiless child, revolutionary and liberating’’ and the ‘‘greatest clown of his generation,’’ Benigni said of Mr. Villaggio’s most celebrated roles.

Fantozzi interpreted Italians’ worst fears about making fools of themselves in the workplace. The character also allowed them to laugh at themselves.

Another popular character he invented was timid office worker Giandomenico Fracchia.

Mr. Villaggio, a cabaret, TV, and film actor, appeared along with Benigni in Federico Fellini’s last movie, ‘‘La Voce della Luna’’ in 1990.


Mr. Villaggio acted in films by some of Italy’s top directors, including Lina Wertmuller, Mario Monicelli, and Ermanno Olmi.

In 1992, he became the first comic to win the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion career award.

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, reporting his death, said Mr. Villaggio ‘‘knew how to marry, like no other in Italy, Italian comedy’s social analysis to the perfect rhythms of slapstick, also known as physical comedy.’’