Italian actor and director Arnoldo Foa dies

ROME (JTA) – Noted Italian stage, screen and broadcast personality Arnoldo Foa died in Rome.

Foa died Saturday, just days short of his 98th birthday, after a brief respiratory illness.

Born into a Jewish family in Ferrara on Jan. 24, 1916, Foa was forced to leave cinematography school in 1938 when Italy’s fascist anti-Semitic laws were imposed, and could only work by using false names.

After World War II, he became one of Italy’s most distinguished actors and directors, starring in theater productions, acting in more than 100 films, and performing on television and radio.

His distinctive voice was his hallmark, and he also became known for dubbing into Italian actors such as Anthony Quinn, Kirk Douglas and John Wayne.

Though born Jewish, Foa considered himself an atheist. He had “a contradictory Jewish identity, difficult and torn, but never denied, always borne with his head high, with pride, as often is the case among Italian Jews,” the Jewish monthly Pagine Ebraiche wrote.

Foa’s funeral was scheduled for Monday at Rome’s city hall, the Campidoglio.