ROME (Reuters) – Raffaella Carra, one of Italy’s best-loved singers and television hosts, who became almost as famous as a symbol of sexual liberation in Spain and South America as in her own country, died Monday at the age of 78.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said of Carra, “with her smile and her generosity, generations of Italians accompanied and took the name Italy around the world”.
Carra, whose real name was Raffaella Pelloni, rose to fame as a pop singer in the 1970s, when her sensual dance, revealing costumes and sexually confident lyrics broke new ground in Catholic Italy.
She scored big hits with songs like “Tuca Tuca” and probably her best known success “A fare l’amore comincia tu”, which urged women to take charge sexually with the lyrics “show him it’s not a game, let him know what you want.”
A remix of this single from Paolo Sorrentino’s 2013 Oscar-winning film The Great Beauty.
Carra had started her career as an actress in the 1960s, appearing in numerous films, including the 1965 film Von Ryan’s Express, co-starring Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard, but without the success she would later achieve as a singer.
Sergio Japino, Carra’s former partner and director, announced that she had passed away after an illness that “attacked her body which was so small yet so full of overflowing energy”.
Within minutes, the news dominated the websites of Italy’s major newspapers, with Corriere della Sera paying tribute to “Raffa, Queen of TV” under a photo of Carra sporting her signature blonde bob haircut.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Carra, who never married or had children, was probably Italy’s best-known television artist as a singer, dancer and variety show host, and also enjoyed great international success in South America and Spain.
In her later years, she was adopted as an icon by the Gay Pride movement, something Carra attributed to her “joy”, and in 2017 she was chosen as “godmother” for the World Pride event in Madrid.
(Reporting by Gavin Jones; editing by Catherine Evans)