Curtis, Antonio de (born: Antonio Clemente, aka Totò de Curtis): b. Feb. 15, 1898 in Naples; d. Apr. 15, 1967 in Rome). Screen actor, writer, and songwriter. He spent his early life living in poverty until his father, Marquis Giuseppe de Curtis, recognized him as his son in 1928. Upon his father’s death in 1933, he was adopted by Marquis Francesco Gagliardi Focas. In 1946, the Italian courts finally recognized him as the rightful heir of both men, granting him the full name and titles of “Antonio Griffo Focas Flavio Ducas Comneno Porfirogenito Gagliardi De Curtis di Bisanzio, Altezza Imperiale, Conte Palatino, Cavaliere del Sacro Impero Romano, Esarca di Ravenna, Duca di Macedonia e di Illiria, Principe di Costantinopoli, di Cicilia, di Tessaglia, di Ponte di Moldavia, di Dardania, del Peloponneso, Conte di Cipro e di Epiro, Conte e Duca di Drivasto e Durazzo.”
In the course of his acting career, he developed a popular comedic character Totò, whom he portrayed in several movies. Among his films were “L’Allegro Fantasma” (1941), “Il Ratto delle Sabine” (1945), “Totò le Mokò” (1946), “Dov`è la Libertá” (1952), “I Tre Ladri” (1954), “Totò, Peppino e le Fanatiche” (1958), “Le Belle Famiglie” (1964), and “Capriccio all’italiana” (1967). Later in life he became recognized for his talents as a poet and songwriter. Among his songs was the very popular Malafemmena (“the bad girl”).
Eventually his health failed and he suffered a series of heart attacks. He died in Rome at the age of 69 and was brought back to his native Naples for burial.
Totò never forgot the poverty of his youth. Throughout his life he dedicated himself to helping less-fortunate actors and artists.