Vittorio GassmanThursday, March 30, 2006
The suave and handsome 6-foot-2 man in a herringbone jacket and striped tie who opened the door of a room at the Sutton Place Hotel (at the time it was the Meridien) reacted to my stare by stating, "I played centre in my secondary school basketball team." Genoa-born (in 1922) Italian actor Vittorio Gassman faced my camera. I was to wait as he had to create a character. He bent his head and closed his eyes. Ignoring an experienced film critic's warning on asking actors about former spouses, I mentioned Shelly Winters. Gassman's reaction was silence. Gassman, who suffered chronic emphysema, bronchitis, high blood pressure and depression died on June 29th, 2000, of heart failure in Rome. He told his final stage audience in February 2000, "Death does not obsess me - it disgusts me."