Mondadori / Mondadori Wallet via Getty Images
Italians mourn the death of a beloved artist often referred to as “the lady” or “the queen” of Italian television.
Raffaella Carrà, 78, died in Rome after a long illness, according to her family. “She left for a better world, where her humanity, her unique laughter and her extraordinary talent will shine forever,” wrote on Monday her choreographer, long-time partner and close friend Sergio Japino in a statement released by the news agency Italian ANSA.
Exuberantly glamorous singer, actor and TV presenter known for his sparkling jumpsuits and shiny blond bob, Carrà has hosted numerous Italian shows, with guests ranging from Nobel Prize winners to hula hoop virtuosos. She embarked on Spanish and Latin American entertainment at the height of her popularity and became an outspoken gay icon, in part because of a song she recorded in the mid-1970s celebrating beauty. gay men. Over the years, Carrà would be compared by Americans to Donna Summer, Barbara Walters and Ann-Margret, but it might be fairer to imagine a convincing combination of the three.
Carrà helped spark a sexual revolution in Italy
“Without trying to be, she was truly a feminist trailblazer in Italy,” NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli wrote in an email after the singer’s death, describing Carrà as “cool” and “daring.” In a news spot for the network, Poggioli said the singer helped spark a sexual revolution in Italy, both by baring her belly on conservative state television in 1970 and through her irrepressibly successful songs. eye-catchers celebrating female sexual pleasure and confidence, including “A Far l’Amore Comincia Tu” (“Be the one initiating sex”).
Born in Bologna, Carrà began to appear in films from an early age. She co-starred with Frank Sinatra in a WWII Hollywood drama set in Italy, Von Ryan’s Express, when she was in her early twenties. Soon after, Carrà became a formidable cultural force on Italian television. Programs such as Canzonissima and Fantastic showcased his considerable talents and at one point in the 1980s, regularly attracted 25 million viewers, almost half of what was then the Italian population.
She was also known for serious TV interviews
Although Carrà is best remembered for her upbeat, positive sex performance, Poggioli points out that Carrà’s 1987 interview with Paula Cooper – a young black American woman convicted of murder – helped bring Cooper out. from Indiana death row. The year before, Carrà had held firm in an interview with David Letterman on his talk show while visiting the United States. She was not a woman to be pushed around.
The singer’s 60-year career found a new lease of life in Spain and throughout Latin America after the fall of dictator Francisco Franco. She has recorded dozens of songs in Spanish and in 2018 the King of Spain made her a lady, “al orden del merito civil” to be “an icon of freedom”. A Spanish musical for jukebox called Explota Explota based on his hits was released last year – this makes the case for Carrà as a sort of ABBA of the Mediterranean on its own.
The star never married and did not have children. The Rome mayor’s office has announced that Italian citizens will be able to pay tribute to Raffaella Carrà tomorrow evening, as his coffin is in the state at the town hall. His funeral will be on Friday at the nearby Ara Coeli church.