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Actor-Director Carmelo Bene Dies

March 17, 2002

ROME (AP) - Carmelo Bene, an actor and director who stirred up Italian theater with experimental techniques influenced by the European avant-garde, has died. He was 64.

Bene, who had suffered from serious heart problems, died Saturday at his home in Rome, news reports said.

Bene was born in 1937 in the southern town of Campi Salentina and made his stage debut in Rome in 1959, in ``Caligula'' by French writer Albert Camus. Bene went on to direct himself in many works, often reinterpreting classics such as Shakespeare's ``Hamlet.''

In the 1960s and 1970s, he delved into film, appearing in director Pier Paolo Pasolini's ``Oedipus Rex'' in 1967. Bene's own film the following year, ``Our Lady of the Turks,'' won a prize at the Venice Film Festival.

He returned to theater in the mid-1970s, later directing performances in which he read poems to classical music.

His health had suffered in recent years, and he was less involved in production.

Writer and actor Dario Fo, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize for literature, described Bene as ``a great provocateur.''

Bene was always more tied to the avant-garde in other European nations than in his home country, Fo said.

``He was always an outsider, someone on the sidelines,'' Fo said.

Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi sent a letter of condolence to Bene's family, describing the actor as an ``extraordinary dramatic talent'' who was ``provocative and constantly searching for new modes of expression.''

Bene is survived by his wife, Raffaella Baracchi, and a daughter, Salome, the daily newspaper La Stampa said. Bene had requested that there be no public funeral ceremony.

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