Scottish obituary: Raffaella Carrà, singer, dancer and actress

Raffaella Carra, posing in London in 1972, was renowned for her positive sexual message (Photo: Reg Burkett / Daily Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
Raffaella Carra, posing in London in 1972, was renowned for her positive sexual message (Photo: Reg Burkett / Daily Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Raffaella Carrà caused shock and outrage and was condemned by the Vatican in 1970 while wearing an outfit that exposed her belly on a variety show on Italian television. It was apparently the first time that a woman dared to reveal her stomach on national television in this socially conservative country.

But the public loved him (most of them), and societies change, sometimes quite quickly, and a few years later Carrà had great international success with A Far L’Amore Comincia Tu – which roughly translates to by You Be the One to Initiate Sex.

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It was a female empowerment message that predated Spice Girls and their child-friendly Girl Power brand and more explicit lyrics by British and American pop stars such as Madonna.

Carrà entered the British Top Ten and the Top of the Pops in 1978 with an English version, titled, slightly more ambiguously, Do It, Do It Again.

She remained relatively unknown in the UK, but she was a true icon in Italy, Spain – where she had her own show pretty much as soon as Franco died – and Latin America. Thousands of people marched through the streets of Rome for his funeral procession, which was broadcast live on television on RAI, the Italian equivalent of the BBC.

Carrà also had many followers in the gay community, drawn by his energy and flamboyance.

In a variety show, she danced in a two-piece gold number – with her stomach exposed, while her choir line was all in gold masks with huge gold cups and saucers on her head. In another, she dressed as a nun and perched on top of an apple for a Beatles medley.

She once said that she only dated gay men as a teenager and was a staunch advocate for LGBT rights. She then dated several straight Italian celebrities, but said she repelled the advances of Frank Sinatra, with whom she appeared in the 1965 war film Von Ryan’s Express.

She was born Raffaella Maria Roberta Pelloni in Bologna in 1943. Her parents separated and she spent her early childhood in the coastal town of Bellaria in Rimini, where her father ran a bar.

As a child, she was charmed by singers and dancers on television and spent hours copying and mastering their routines.

At the age of eight, she secured a place at the National Dance Academy in Rome and was only nine when she made her film debut in Tormento del Passato (Torment of the Past).

In her late teens, she sang and danced in Italian television shows, while expanding her film career in Europe in films such as The Fury of the Pagan, Ulysses Against Hercules, Pontius Pilate, Caesar the Conqueror and The Shadow. by Zorro.

In her early 20s, 20th Century-Fox signed her up and picked her to face Sinatra in Von Ryan’s Express, which was shot in Italy and at Century City Studios, California.

While in the United States in the 1960s, she witnessed the decade’s youthful cultural revolution and went to see the rock musical Hair, with her groundbreaking nudity, every night for a month.

Back in Europe, she co-starred in a French feature film of The Saint titled Le Saint Prend L’Affût (The Waiting Saint), with Jean Marais as adventurer Simon Templar.

And she became the co-host of the Italian variety show Canzonissima, which provided the platform for her famous nude papal outrage.

Television executives only shared the pontiff’s dismay until they realized how popular she was.

They attempted to ban his very literal rendition of a song called Tuca, Tuca as Touch, Touch, banning it after just three performances, but gave in when movie star Alberto Sordi said he would not appear. in the show as if she did. again.

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During the 1970s, its fame and popularity spread throughout much of Europe and there were stays in Spain and South America.

There was new controversy following his return to Italy, this time focusing on finance rather than wardrobe.

She was now earning so much that her paychecks for the public broadcaster RAI were labeled “immoral and scandalous” by Italian Socialist Prime Minister Bettino Craxi.

Carrà, for her part, once revealed that she had always voted communist.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, she divided her time between Italy and Spain and developed her career as an interviewer and chat host, with Henry Kissinger and Mother Teresa among her guests.

Four years ago, Carrà featured prominently in a major exhibition in Milan on Italian television in the 1970s. Curator and artist Franceso Vezzoli said: “I think Raffaella Carrà has done more to liberate women than many feminists. “

His songs were the basis for a Spanish feature film last year, titled Explota, Explota (Explode, Explode).

The film begins with a young woman visiting a television studio and explaining to the director of a variety show that she is not a dancer.

He plays a Carrà song to her, she does not resist and is engaged.

Carrà never married or had children.

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