05 January 2012

Giani Esposito

Gianni Esposito aka Giani Esposito (1930 - 1974) was a Belgian actor, singer/songwriter and poet. He appeared in 50 films between 1951 and 1973.

Gianni Esposito
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 697. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Gianni Esposito was born in Ixelles/Etterbeek, a part of Brussels, in 1930. His father was Italian, his mother French. He first lived in Paris and between 1939 and 1949, he grew up in Italy. In 1951, Esposito became an actor in French cinema, starting with a bit part in Maitre après Dieu/Skipper Next to God (1951, Louis Daquin) starring Pierre Brasseur. Around the same time he started a singing career, performing at the cabarets La Rose Rouge and L'Ecluse, and in 1957 he had success with the song Le Clown. From 1958 on he registered records with his texts and songs. He also published some books and did illustrations. Meanwhile he appeared in supporting parts in such films as the Jean-Paul Sartre adaptation Huis clos/No Exit (1954, Jacqueline Audry), the musical French Cancan (1955, Jean Renoir) staring Jean Gabin, Les mauvaises rencontres/Bad Liaisons (1955, Alexandre Astruc) with Anouk Aimée, and Les Misérables (1957-1958, Jean-Paul Le Chanois) based on the book by Victor Hugo. In 1959 he met Pascale Petit who became his partner. In 1966 their daughter Douchka Esposito was born.

Béatrice Altariba and Gianni Esposito
East-German postcard by VEB Progress. Photo: Béatrice Altariba and Esposito played Cosette and Marius in Les misérables (1957, Jean-Paul Le Chanois).

Until 1971 Gianni Esposito played roles in many French and some Italian films, including Paris nous appartient/Paris Belongs to Us (1960, Jacques Rivette), the two-part experiment Françoise ou La vie conjugale/Anatomy of a Marriage (1964, André Cayatte) featuring Marie-José Nat, and its sequel Jean-Marc ou La vie conjugale/Anatomy of a Marriage (1964, André Cayatte) featuring Jacques Charrier, and Il Decameron/The Decameron (1971, Pier Paolo Pasolini), the first film in Pasolini's Trilogy of Life. Between 1957 and 1973 Esposito also played in telefilms and television series. In 1971 Esposito met Ersie Pittas, niece of the Greek director Michael Cacoyannis, and left his wife and daughter. With Pittas he started a show in which he recited poems while he danced, touring around France in 1972-1973. While having an overload of projects and plans Gianni Esposito was struck by a viral hepatitis and a brain tumor in late 1973, and died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, on New Year's Day 1 January 1974.

Scene from Paris nous appartient (1961). Source: circeo59 (Daily Motion).

Giani Esposito sings Le Clown. Source: Infolinux (YouTube).

Sources: gianiesposito.chronobio.com, Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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