The Italian Almanac

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Massimo Catalano

Massimo Catalano

A comic who left his mark on Italian entertainment history with deadpan truisms on a cult 1980s TV show died aged 77. Massimo Catalano was one of a troupe of eccentrics recruited by showman Renzo Arbore for a short-lived and fondly remembered 1985 show, Quelli della Notte (The Night People).

His banal one-liners, delivered as if they were nuggets of wisdom, included: "Its better to marry a rich, beautiful and clever woman than an ugly, poor and stupid woman". Musician and presenter Arbore said: "He'll stay in the common language, he'll always be the king of banality. He created a saying (about such obvious but droll statements): 'That's a Catalanism'".

Catalano started out as a trumpeter with swing band The Flippers which had a string of hits in the 1960s, teaching Italy to cha cha cha. The late singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla had a stint with them as a clarinettist in 1961.

Catalano, a left-wing intellectual and bon vivant, died of cancer in his Umbria home a year after his wife.