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Italian actress Mariangela Melato dies

Versatile performer best known for Swept Away

Italian actress Mariangela Melato dies

Rome, January 11 - Italian star of stage and screen Mariangela Melato died of cancer at a clinic in Rome on Friday at the age of 71. Melato was best known for a 1970s socially conscious comedy about a fractious but eventually romantic seaborne interlude between representatives of Italy's highest and lowest classes, which was unsuccessfully remade by American superstar singer and actress Madonna in 2002. The Milanese-born Melato, who had a wide dramatic and comic range, was popular on Italian TV until recently. Her 1974 portrayal of an aristocratic Milan socialite marooned with a Communist sailor played by frequent onscreen partner Giancarlo Giannini gained her international fame. The Lina Wertmuller film, entitled Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August, was remade by Madonna and then husband Guy Ritchie in 2002 as Swept Away, a critical and commercial dud. Born in Milan in 1941, the hugely versatile Melato interpreted a range of characters on stage and on the big and small screens over the course of her long career, working with directors of the calibre of Luca Ronconi, Mario Monicelli, Luchino Visconti and Dario Fo as well as Wertmuller, whose Swept Away was one of three hugely successful comedies with her and Giannini. She made her cinema debut in 1969 in Thomas by Pupi Avati but rose to fame three years later with her interpretation of co-star Giannini's Milanese lover Fiore in Wertmuller's The Seduction of Mimi, massive hit in Italy. Her theatrical successes include Orlando Furioso, Aeschylus' trilogy Oresteia and What Maisie Knew based on the novel by Henry James, all directed by Ronconi. Melato's small-screen performances date mostly to the last two decades, most recently in Rebecca, The First Wife (2008) directed by Riccardo Milani, based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, and in the television adaptation of great Neapolitan playwright Eduardo De Filippo's classic Filumena Marturano (2010), which was screened most recently on New Year's Day.

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