The handsome Cesare Danova, who appeared in more than 300
films and TV shows, was born Cesare Deitinger on this day in 1926 in
|Cesare Danova in his debut film, The Captain's|
Daughter, with co-star Irasema Dilián
The son of an Austrian father and an Italian mother, the
actor adopted Danova as his professional name after meeting the film producer,
Dino de Laurentiis
, in Rome.
De Laurentiis gave him a screen test and was so impressed he
immediately cast Danova in the 1947 movie The Captain's Daughter,
alongside established Italian film actor Amedeo Nazzari and the relative newcomer, Vittorio Gassman.
So began a career that was to see Danova star opposite
and Richard Burton
in Joseph L Mankiewicz's 1963 hit
, opposite Elvis Presley and Ann-Margaret in Viva Las Vegas
alongside Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in Martin Scorsese's cult movie Mean
(1973) and as part of a star-studded cast in National Lampoon's Animal
In his later years, Danova became a familiar figure on TV
screens in America, making appearances in almost all the popular drama series
of the 1980s, including Charlie's Angels, Murder, She Wrote, Falcon Crest, Hart
and Mission: Impossible.
He never retired and had appeared in an episode of In the Heat of the Night
shortly before he died in 1992 of a heart attack, aged 66.
|Cesare Danova in the 1960s, by which time|
he was a well-established star of film and TV
Danova was an individual blessed with a wide range of
talents. He spoke five languages, was a licensed pilot and a self-taught
Standing 6ft 4ins (1.93m) tall, he was also an accomplished
athlete, winning a fencing championship at the age of 15 and playing for the
Italian national rugby team at 17. He was also a good golfer and tennis player,
an amateur swimming champion, an expert horseman and polo player, and a master
He might have made a career in professional sport but his
parents wanted him to become a doctor.
While studying at Rome University, he became interested in acting, but was so determined not to disappoint his parents he pushed himself so hard in
his academic work he suffered a nervous breakdown.
It was while he was recuperating that a friend introduced
him to De Laurentiis, by then an up-and-coming producer, whose gamble on giving
this unknown a part in a prestigious title paid off, launching Danova as a kind
of Italian Errol Flynn, cast as the dashing lead in about 20 Italian
Danova moved to the United States in the 1950s. He had been
spotted by MGM when appearing in the German-backed 1955 movie Don Giovanni
signed a long-term contract with the studio in June 1956.
|Danova (left) on the set of Mean Streets with Harvey|
Keitel and director Martin Scorsese
When he was cast in Cleopatra
as one of a trio of lovers
vying for the Egyptian queen’s attention alongside Rex Harrison's Julius Caesar
and Richard Burton's Marc Antony, he filmed a number of love scenes with
Elizabeth Taylor. But after a real-life romance between Taylor and Burton made
headlines, the producers decided they needed to exploit the Burton-Taylor
chemistry and most of Danova's scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
But he later won acclaim as the Mafia Don Giovanni Cappa in
, Scorsese's brilliant story about life among the small-time hoods
in New York , and as corrupt mayor Carmine DePasto in Animal House.
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Married twice, Danova had two sons, Marco and Fabrizio, by
his first wife, Pamela.