81 year-old Italian actor and comedian Oreste Lionello passed away today in a Rome hospital after a long illness. Lionello achieved his greatest fame as a dubber of voices in American movies shown in Italy.
A career as a dubber is rooted in a kind of self-deflection or self-abnegation–Lionello gave voice to, among others, Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator, Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, and Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein. So it’s a delightful irony that in Lionello’s case, all this self-asiding gave way to a rather bold act of self-definition. To wit, Lionello would sometimes answer his home phone,
“I am the voice of Woody Allen.”