Raffaella Carrà, Italy's entertainment icon
Dance, singer, television star, diva
Dance, singer, television star, diva
Raffaella Carrà was a legendary Italian pop singer, actress, dancer and television presenter. She was beloved in her home country Italy, as well as in Spain and other European countries and across Latin America. Her song A far l'amore comincia tu - known in English as Do it, Do it Again - was a hit in several countries, and was translated into several languages including Spanish, German, French and English.
She was so popular in Italy that one magazine in 1984 described her as: 'More applauded than [president] Pertini, more expensive than [footballer] Michel Platini, more miraculous than [saint] Padre Pio.'
Born in Bologna in 1943, as Raffaella Pelloni, her talent emerged young. Aged just 8 years old, she moved to Rome to study at the National Academy of Dance. There, she also began classes at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia (Italian National film school), graduating in 1960.
In the early 1960s, she appeared in many Italian 'sword and -sandal' films (a genre known as peplum), as well as comedies and action films.
In 1965, Raffaella Carrà moved to Hollywood. Following Federico Fellini's 1960 film La Dolce Vita, many Italian actors were popular, such as Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida. Carrà had roles in some films and television shows, but did not like living in Los Angeles and felt homesick. Thus, one year later, she returned to Italy where she featured in films and television series. This lead to her success on Italian television.
Through the 1970s, she presented popular Saturday night entertainment shows on Italian television, in which she performed a variety of songs, and danced to show-tunes with highly choreographed show tunes. She became a well-known and loved personality.
Later she began to also host shows on television in Spain. Riding the disco wave of the late 1970s, she focused on music and released a number of albums. Her 1976 album Forte forte forte was released in 36 countries. Her follow-up Fiesta was released just one year later. Over her long career, she released 25 albums in all.
It's this era of her career for which Raffaella is best remembered. Her sweet melodious singing, enthusiastic and effortless dancing - all high kicks and head flicks - her trademark blond bob, her glamour and style all combine to make her a beloved Italian diva. Take a moment to watch her performances, they will not fail to make you smile.
In 1971, while performing her song Tuca Tuca, she wore clothing which revealed her belly button. This was seen as scandalous and provactive in Catholic, conservative Italy. Her 1976 hit song A far l'amore comincia tu urged women to take control during sex, and thus Raffaella Carra became an icon of women's liberation. She was also a defender of worker's rights and a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community in Italy. These qualities, along with her excellent talents and skills, made Raffaella Carra the icon that she was.
Into the 1980s, Raffaella Carrà continued to present many successful shows on Italian and Spanish television. She hosted the first day-time talk-show in Italy, a format that became popular in that decade. More than 14 million viewers tuned in to watch her interview Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In 1983, she hosted the popular Sanremo Music Festival, the show which inspired the Eurovision Song Contest.
This television success continued through the 1990s and into the 2000s. She remained close to the Eurovision Song Contest, presenting a selection show in Spain in 2008 and commentating for Italian television in 2011.
In 2021, Italy won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 30 years. Some months later, Italian TV revealed plans for the legendary Italian television icon to present the show in 2022.
Sadly, this was not to be, as Raffaella Carrà died in Rome on 5 July 2021, at the age of 78. Thousands lined the streets of Italian cities to mourn Raffaella Carrà as her funeral was broadcast live on TV, remembering her as someone representing freedom whose music lifted the soul and brought sweet smiles.