Petrolini, Ettore

(1886-1936)
   Actor and playwright. Taking to the stage at the age of 14, Petrolini achieved enormous national and international renown as a performer of cabaret and musical theater, touring extensively throughout Europe and the Americas. In spite of his huge popularity over three decades, he appeared only twice in films during the silent period: in a brief comic sketch for Latium films in 1913 and in Mario Bonnard's Mentre il pubblico ride (While the Public Laughs, 1919). However, in 1930 Alessandro Blasetti filmed a performance of his stage show Nerone (Nero, 1930) and a year later Carlo Campogalliani also recorded theatrical performances of Cortile (Courtyard, 1931) and Medico per forza (1931), an Italian version of Moliere's Le medecin malgre lui (The Doctor in Spite of Himself). Although Petrolini's lampoon of the Roman emperor in Nerone appeared to many as thinly veiled references to Mussolini, such was his overwhelming popularity that the film was allowed to circulate freely and Mussolini himself is said to have been amused by it.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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