By Marco Giusti
July 31, 2017
Italian film and cinema Stracultist loses Nicola Di Gioia, 73, born in Andria but immediately transferred to Rome, stuntman, actor, organizer, historical catch-monsters for Fellini, a fundamental presence and tireless in an unspecified number of films of every type. Peplums like Pontius Pilate and Romulus and Remo, comedies like 002 Secret Agents, westerns like Poker With Pistols and Death Walks in Laredo, Merola movies like Your Life For My Son, Buddy-movie Like Banana Joe, Yellow, Historic. Not everyone remembers.
Occasionally a new title emerged, like Accattone. For Dino Risi, Nicola was tout court in the cinema. For Carlo Verdone, who acted as an actor on several occasions, Nicola had "the most horrified voice in Italian cinema". His voice, so pungent, so peculiar, so "shaken up" had given him a kind of new vitality in the recent comedy, from Verdone to Giovanni Veronesi to Paolino Ruffini, who wanted him as Darth Vader in Everything Very Beautiful. For me it was not just a brother of adventures, but the key to looking for characters and actors who, like him, had appeared in films.
I met him for the first time on TV on Orgoglio Coatto where he played the role of recruiter for me and Carlo Verdone. He had filled the Theater of Victories of Presence really frightening. From there it had become a key element of Stracult. And if I think about Stracult, I think of myself and Nick going around Italy looking for great features of the 1960s and 1970s like Ennio Antonelli, Horse Fever Manzotin, Nino Terzo, Tartaglione d ' Italy, by Osiride Pevarello, who turned 90 in motion with a watermelon of mysterious actors like Ken Clark. Or looking for stuntmen like Mario Novelli or Gilberto Galimberti, who had just disappeared.
Or of old bad actors like Max Turilli, who opened the door to a sort of hell where he lived. Nick did not stop at anything and could find anyone. He knew Italian cinema, his sets, his absurd geographies as very few others in the world. There was no Roman road that he did not know and where he did not shoot. If he appeared on a set they knew each other.
When we went looking for old actors and stuntmen of Spaghetti westerns, they came to mythological characters never seen before by anybody, like Angelo Susani called "Ciuffo", a tripartite trio of Livio Lorenzon who had moved from Mongolian roles to peplum to those as a Mexican.
Forgotten filmmakers like Franco Lattanzi, who while filming a film for a producer, simultaneously turned another with the same set for himself. Nicola had opened the door to an incredible movie far far from the official one, even though he had long since snatched that too. For Mario Monicelli he was an old-fashioned researcher, although many did not hold the second recall on the set. Also for Dino Risi had built the minor cast of Dago
If you knew him, as it happened to me and Verdone, it was impossible to do it. He knew best of all Federico Fellini, who had given him a hand for the most absurd casts, recruiting dwarves for Ginger and Fred, the chubby, the gay, the Chinese. Nick still had the notebook where he had divided the Roman extras and the attractions, including the dwarves, he was in the early days, including a couple of Lilliputians, very rare.
The dwarves also served him for the set of a dream of a mid-summer motley by Michael Hoffman. The Chinese filled us with the Gangs of New York. You could ask him anything. At the request of a lion, he answered "Like you, bond or bad?" He had marvelous stories. As Richard Burton drove him out of Doctor Faustus's set because he touched the ass of Elizabeth Taylor. But he was an infamous devil, what else should he do?
Or when he had a story with a young Catherine Deneuve on the set of Pontius Pilate. Or when they went with another famous stuntman for the Lollobrigida stand-up. Or when he stepped over the wall of Cinecittà to get a role in Ben Hur. Nick was the Metro Goldwyn Mayer for whom the movie had just dreamed of it. With him we have always enjoyed it. And everyone has always loved him. From Fellini to Monicelli to Risi to Verdone to Veronesi. With Nick goes a healthy and mythical part of Cinecittà and our cinema.
Di GIOIA, Nicola
Born: 5/3/1944, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Died: 7/31/2017, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Nicola Di Gioia’s westerns – stuntman, actor:
My Name is Pecos – 1966 (Mexican policeman)
Death Walks in Laredo – 1967 (gunman)
Don’t Wait Django… Shoot! – 1967 (Hondo)
Poker With Pistols – 1967 (gunman)
A Stranger in Town – 1967 (bandit)
A Stranger in Paso Bravo – 1968 (gunman)
Arrapaho – 1984 [stunts]