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Screenwriter Suso Cecchi D'Amico dies at 96

July 31, 2010 | 10:24 am

D'amico Screenwriter Suso Cecchi D'Amico, who emerged from the male-dominated postwar Italian cinema to contribute to such films as "Bicycle Thieves" and "The Leopard," died Saturday at age 96.

Cecchi D'Amico died in Rome, the ANSA news agency said, citing her family. No cause of death was given.

She worked with some of the most renowned Italian directors, including Franco Zeffirelli and Mario Monicelli, whose movie "Casanova 70" earned her an Oscar nomination.

She was equally successful at writing scripts for neo-realistic movies, art-house films and comedies such as "Big Deal on Madonna Street." Her work helped make the Italian postwar movie scene a vibrant and innovative one.

A long partnership with Luchino Visconti became a defining element in Cecchi D'Amico's career, spanning more than two decades and several movies. Among other titles, she contributed to "The Leopard," the sumptuous depiction of the decline of a Sicilian aristocratic family based on the book by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and starring Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon.

Claudia Cardinale, who starred in "The Leopard," praised Cecchi D'Amico's deep culture and generosity. Zeffirelli called her "an extraordinary screenwriter" but also a goodhearted woman who was "a mom and a sister to all of us."

Born Giovanna Cecchi in 1914 to a family of writers and intellectuals, she began working in cinema soon after the war. She quickly landed a high-profile job helping write the script for Vittorio De Sica's "Bicycle Thieves," which was released in 1948 and became a manifesto for neo-realism.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Suso Cecchi D'Amico, in 2002. Credit: Associated Press