Massimo Ranieri (born Giovanni Calone, 3 May 1951) is an Italian singer, actor, television presenter and director.
Ranieri was born in Naples (at Santa Lucia), the fifth of eight children in the family. When he was 10, young Giovanni would sing at restaurants, wedding receptions, etc. He was discovered by a music producer about four years later and was flown to New York to record an EP under the name of Gianni Rock.
Ranieri recorded four songs in 1964: Tanti auguri signora, Se mi aspetti stasera, Non chiudere la porta, and La Prima Volta. None of the records were successful, primarily because young Gianni’s voice was changing. Two years later, he would re-emerge under his new stage name, Massimo Ranieri. In 1966, he made his TV debut singing “Bene Mio”. A year later, he made another TV appearance singing, “Pietà per chi ti ama”. In 1968, he recorded two more songs: “Da Bambino”, Ma L’amore cos’è” and “Preghiera”. It was not until 1969 when he achieved success and became a teen idol when he sang “O Sole Mio” on live TV. That same year, he had a string of hits: “Rita”, “Se bruciasse la citta”, “Quando l’amore diventa poesia”, “Il mio amore resta sempre”, “Rose rosse” and “Zingara”. In 1970, “Vent’anni”, “Sogno d’amore”, “Sei l’amore mio”, “Aranjuez Amore Mio”, and “Candida”. In 1971, Ranieri recorded the songs “Adagio Veneziano”, “Via del Conservatorio”, and “Io e Te”. He represented Italy in the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, Ireland, where he placed 5th with the song “L’Amore E’ Un Attimo. ” In 1972, he released the songs “Ti Ruberei”, “O Surdato ‘nnamurato”, and “Erba di Casa Mia”; in 1973, “Amo Ancora Lei”. He returned to the Eurovision Song Contest that year, in Luxembourg, to represent Italy with “Chi sarà con te”, where he placed 13th. In 1974, came the singles “Te Voglio Bene Assaie”, “Immagina”, and “Per Una Donna”. In 1988, he made a comeback to his singing career with the song, “Perdere l’amore”, which won the Sanremo Festival, that year. In 1997, he made another comeback with “Ti parlerò d’amore”. In February 2007, he started a concert tour of Italy, titled “Canto perché non-so nuotare…da 40 anni” which lasted for more than two years, with more than 500 shows, was made into a CD and a DVD, which went platinum.
In 1970, Ranieri decided to venture into acting. His screen debut, Metello received rave reviews from critics, and won him the David di Donatello award for best actor for portraying the title character. He co-starred with Anna Magnani in the television film La Sciantosa later that year. In 1974, he filmed Salvo D’Acquisto, where he portrayed a carabiniere who was executed by the Nazis during World War II. When his singing career started to decline in 1975, Massimo concentrated on his acting career, both in the cinema and, most importantly, as a stage actor: he collaborated with the directors Mauro Bolognini, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, Giorgio de Lullo, Giorgio Strehler and Maurizio Scaparro, performing a wide range of material from modern plays and musicals, to Molière and Shakespeare. In 1996, Ranieri provided the speaking and the singing voice of Quasimodo in the Italian-Language version of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He even reprised this role in the sequel. In 2004, he starred in his first French film, a trilogy series called Les Parisiens, where he played a street artist. In 2005, he returned on the stage with the show “Accussì Grande”, after a long bout with illness, from which he fully recovered. In 2007, he was in a docu-film called Civico 0, where he played Guilano, a fruit vendor, who becomes homeless after the death of his mother. In 2008, he starred in the film L’Ultimo Pulcinella. In 2009, he played the storyteller in the play, Polvere di Baghdad, directed by Maurizio Scaparro. In 2010, Massimo was featured in Passione, a documentary about the history of music from Naples, Italy, directed by Italian-American actor, John Turturro. In November 2010, he took part in the miniseries remake of the classic play, Filumena Marturano, produced by Italian TV RAI Uno, with Mariangela Melato in the title role. Massimo portrayed Filumena’s husband, Domenico Soriano.
On 16 October 2002, Massimo Ranieri was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Ranieri never married. However, in 1971, he fathered a daughter, Cristiana, out of wedlock with Franca Sebastiani. He didn’t have anything to do with the raising of his daughter, saying that he was too young and inexperienced for fatherhood, and that it would be damaging to his career. He was never linked with any other woman thereafter. He didn’t have any contact with his daughter until they met when she was about 20 years old. At the start of 2007, he decided to publicly acknowledge his long-estranged daughter, and embraced her for the first time on live TV. It was a tearful reunion between father and daughter. He also became a grandfather in July 2011.