Cesare Danova was born Cesare Deitinger on March 1, 1926, in the town of Bergamo, Italy. His family pressured him to study medicine, but Danova was far more interested in acting. By the time he was 20 years old, he had begun acting in films in his native Italy and continued in European films through the mid 1950s. He was spotted by an MGM talent scout in his starring role in the German adventure film Don Giovanni in 1955 and was quickly signed to a long-term contract. Around the same time, Danova married British actress Pamela Matthews in 1955, and the couple had two sons before divorcing in 1963.

Cesare Danova

Late 1950s beefcake photo of Cesare Danova

Although under contract to the biggest and best film studio, Danova's career languished at MGM. While under contract, he made no films for the studio while executives tried to figure out how to cast the Italian actor. He was nearly cast in as the title character in Ben Hur, but the studio decided to go with Charlton Heston. He finally made his American film bow in the 20th Century-Fox comedy The Man Who Understood Women (1959; with Leslie Caron and Henry Fonda) and proved quite adept at comedy. For the remainder of his career, Danova would alternate between comedic roles and dramas. After leaving MGM, Danova's career flourished in films and on television. His film work includes Cleopatra (1963; with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), Viva Las Vegas (1964; with Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret), and Che! (1969; with Omar Shariff and Jack Palance). Today, audiences best remember Danova in his hilarious role as mafia-boss-turned-mayor Carmine DePasto in Animal House (1978).

the films of cesare danova

Crossed Swords (1954)

Cesare Danova

Danova as Raniero in the United Artists adventure Crossed Swords, a film produced by Errol Flynn and shot in Italy

The Man Who Understood Women (1959)

Cesare Danova and Leslie Caron

From the 20th Century-Fox comedy The Man Who Understood Women with Leslie Caron

Tarzan, the Ape Man (1959)

Cesare Danova and Joanna Barnes

With Joanna Barnes in the MGM adventure Tarzan, the Ape Man

Valley of the Dragons (1961)

Cesare Danova

From Columbia's Jules Verne science fiction adventure Valley of the Dragons

Tender Is the Night (1962)

Cesare Danova, Jennifer Jones, and Jason Robards and Joanna Barnes

From the 20th Century-Fox drama Tender Is the Night with Jennifer Jones and Jason Robards

Cleopatra (1963)

Elizabeth Taylor and Cesare Danova

From the 20th Century-Fox epic Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor

Gidget Goes to Rome (1963)

Cesare Danova and Cindy Carol

With Cindy Carol in Columbia's romantic comedy Gidget Goes to Rome

Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966)

Cesare Danova and Elke SommerKelly Thordsen, Marjorie Lord, Bob Hope, Benny Baker, Cesare Danova, and Elke Sommer

From the Bob Hope comedy Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!. LEFT: Danova as film director Pepe Pepponi tries to convince Elke Sommer to take a bubble bath in his latest picture. RIGHT: Scene from the end of the picture, with Kelly Thordsen, Marjorie Lord, Bob Hope, Benny Baker, and Elke Sommer.

Chamber of Horrors (1966)

Laura Devon and Cesare DanovaSuzy Parker and Cesare Danova

From the Warner Bros. horror release Chamber of Horrors. LEFT: With Laura Devon. RIGHT: With Suzy Parker. This film was originally intended to be a TV pilot

Garrison's Gorillas (1967-1968 ABC TV Series)

Brendon Boone, Christopher Cary, Rudy Solari, Cesare Danova, and Ron Harper

Promotional photo from the ABC TV series Garrison's Gorillas. Pictured are Brendon Boone, Christopher Cary, Rudy Solari, and Ron Harper

Mean Streets (1973)

Harvey Keitel and Cesare Danova

With Harvey Keitel in Martin Scorsese's crime drama Mean Streets, released by Warner Bros.

Scorchy (1976)

Connie Stevens and Cesare Danova

With Connie Stevens in the American-International exploitation flick Scorchy

Tentacles (1977)

Bo Hopkins and Cesare Danova

From American-International's low-budget horror flick Tentacles with Bo Hopkins. Despite its low budget, this film sports an impressive cast

Animal House (1978)

Cesare Danova

As the corrupt mayor Carmine DePasto in the comedy Animal House

later years

Cesare Danova's final film release was the popular comedy Animal House (1978; with John Belushi, Tim Matheson, and John Vernon). In to the 1980s, his career slowed a bit; nonetheless, Danova could be seen in guest spots on Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, and Murder, She Wrote. His final screen appearance came in two episodes of In the Heat of the Night, which lensed a few months before his death on March 19, 1992, from a sudden heart attack. Danova was 66 years old and was survived by his second wife and two sons.

cesare danova dvds available from


Animal House (1978) with John Belushi, Tim Matheson, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Tom Hulce, Peter Riegert, Stephen Furst, Mark Metcalf, Karen Allen, and James Widdoes
Tentacles (1977) with Henry Fonda, John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins, and Claude Akins
Scorchy (1976) with Connie Stevens, William Smith, Norman Burton, John Davis Chandler, Joyce Jameson, and Greg Evigan
A Matter of Wife... and Death (1976) with Rod Taylor, Anne Archer, Lynda Carter, Anita Gillette, and Dick Butkus
The Astral Fiend (1976) with Robert Foxworth, Elke Sommer, Stefanie Powers, Sue Lyon, Leslie Parrish, Mark Slade, and Marianna Hill
Death Cruise (1974) with Richard Long, Polly Bergen, Edward Albert, Kate Jackson, Celeste Holm, Tom Bosley, and Michael Constantine
Mean Streets (1973) with Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel
Honeymoon with a Stranger (1969) with Janet Leigh, Rossano Brazzi, Eric Braeden, and Barbara Steele
Che! (1969) with Omar Sharif, Jack Palance, Robert Loggia, Woody Strode, and Barbara Luna
Chamber of Horrors (1966) with Patrick O'Neal, Laura Devon, Suzy Parker, Jeanette Nolan, Marie Windsor, Wayne Rogers, Richard O'Brien, and Berry Kroeger
Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966) with Bob Hope, Elke Sommer, Phyllis Diller, Marjorie Lord, Kelly Thordsen, Joyce Jameson, and Harry von Zell
Viva Las Vegas (1964) with Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret, and William Demarest
Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) with James Darren, Cindy Carol, Joby Baker, Noreen Corcoran, Lisa Gastoni, Don Porter, and Jeff Donnell
Cleopatra (1963) with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Hume Cronyn, Martin Landau, and Roddy McDowall
Tender Is the Night (1962) with Jennifer Jones, Jason Robards, Joan Fontaine, Tom Ewell, and Jill St. John
Valley of the Dragons (1961) with Sean McClory, Joan Staley, and Gil Perkins
Tarzan, the Ape Man (1959) with Denny Miller, Joanna Barnes, and Robert Douglas
The Man Who Understood Women (1959) with Leslie Caron, Henry Fonda, Conrad Nagel, and Frank Cady
Catch Me If You Can (1959) with Gilbert Roland, Dina Merrill, Jonathan Harris, and Antonio Moreno
Don't Trifle with Women (1958) with Rossana Podesta and Armando Silvestre
Ces sacrees vacances (1956)
Don Giovanni (1955)
Incatenata dal destino (1955) Crossed Swords (1954) with Errol Flynn and Gina Lollobrigida
L'Eterna Femmina (1954) with Hedy Lamarr
Loves of Three Queens (1954) with Hedy Lamarr and Massimo Serato
Balocchi e Profumi (1953)
La Cavallina Storna (1953)
Processo Contro Ignoti (1952)
Pentimento (1952)
Maschera Nnera (1952)
Yolanda (1952) with May Britt and Marc Lawrence
I Tre Corsari (1952) with Marc Lawrence
El Correo Del Rey (1951)
Cavalcata d'Eroi (1950)
El Final de una Leyenda (1950)
La Figlia del Capitano (1947) with Vittorio Gassman
Monaca santa (1945)

Ryan's Hope, 1975-1989 ABC daytime drama. Danova portrayed Silvio Conti from 1988 through the end of the series
Blacke's Magic, 1986 NBC TV series. Danova portrayed Nick
Garrison's Gorillas, 1967-1968 ABC TV series

In the Heat of the Night, episode The Law on Trial, originally aired May 19, 1992
In the Heat of the Night, episode Sanctuary, originally aired May 13, 1992
Mission: Impossible, episode The Greek, originally aired February 11, 1989
Hunter, episode Requiem for Sergeant McCall, originally aired February 7, 1987
Murder, She Wrote, episode The Perfect Foil, originally aired April 13, 1986
Magnum, P.I., episode Who Is Don Luis Higgins... and Why Is He Doing These Terrible Things to Me?, originally aired March 20, 1986
Falcon Crest, episode Sharps and Flats, originally aired November 8, 1985
Too Close for Comfort, episode Arrivederci, Jackie, originally aired November 2, 1985
Falcon Crest, episode Ingress and Egress, originally aired November 1, 1985
Airwolf, episode Airwolf II, originally aired October 5, 1985
Hotel, episode Images, originally aired April 3, 1985
Simon & Simon, episode Revolution #9-1/2, originally aired December 13, 1984
Automan, episode Ships in the Night, originally aired January 5, 1984
Matt Houston, episode The Kidnapping, originally aired November 28, 1982
Matt Houston, episode X-22, originally aired September 26, 1982
The Fall Guy, episode No Way Out, originally aired January 6, 1982
The Love Boat, episode The Lady from Laramine/Vicki Swings/Phantom Bride, originally aired November 14, 1981
Fantasy Island, episode Mr. Nobody/La Liberatora, originally aired November 7, 1981
Hart to Hart, episode Solid Gold Murder, originally aired March 24, 1981
Nero Wolfe, episode To Catch a Dead Man, originally aired February 20, 1981
Trapper John, M.D., episode Have I Got a Girl for You, originally aired February 1, 1981
Fantasy Island, episode The Heroine/The Warrior, originally aired January 24, 1981
Vega$, episode Sourdough Suite, originally aired January 14, 1981
The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, episode Mystery on the Orly Express, originally aired March 25, 1980
Eischied, episode The U.N. Connection, originally aired October 12, 1979
Barnaby Jones, episode A Desperate Pursuit, originally aired October 11, 1979
Charlie's Angels, originally aired Terror on Skis, originally aired February 7, 1979
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, episode The Mystery of King Tut's Tomb, originally aired September 25, 1977
Gemini Man, episode Targets, originally aired November 1, 1976
Charlie's Angels, originally aired The Mexican Connection, originally aired September 29, 1976
Chico and the Man, episode The Return of Aunt Connie, originally aired February 18, 1976
Sanford and Son, episode Can You Chop This?, originally aired January 9, 1976
Matt Helm, episode Death Rods, originally aired November 15, 1975
Police Story, episode The Losing Game, originally aired September 30, 1975
Medical Center, episode Half a Life, originally aired March 17, 1975
McCloud, episode Shivaree on Delancy Street, originally aired November 3, 1974
Police Story, episode The Gamble, originally aired March 26, 1974
Mannix, episode Race Against Time: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired January 6 and 13, 1974
Dusty's Trail, episode Magician, originally aired December 4, 1973
McMillan & Wife, episode The Fine Art of Staying Alive, originally aired March 11, 1973
The New Dick Van Dyke Show, episode The 10th Honeymoon, originally aired February 4, 1973
The Sandy Duncan Show, episode Dream a Little Recurring Dream of Me, originally aired December 31, 1972
Mannix, episode Light and Shadow, originally aired December 17, 1972
Night Gallery, episode Smile, Please, originally aired November 12, 1972
Maude, episode Like Mother, Like Daughter, originally aired October 3, 1972
Lassie, episode Paths of Courage, Parts 1 and 2, originally aired February 20 and 27, 1972
The Doris Day Show, episode Cover Girl, originally aired February 21, 1972
Cannon, episode Flight Plan, originally aired December 28, 1971
The New Dick Van Dyke Show, episode The Conductor and the Lady, originally aired November 20, 1971
McMillan & Wife, episode Husbands, Wives, and Killers, originally aired November 10, 1971
The Doris Day Show, episode When in Rome, Don't, originally aired September 27, 1971
The Mod Squad, episode The Girl in Chair Nine, originally aired September 23, 1969
My Friend Tony, episode Wedding Cake Blues, originally aired March 23, 1969
The Name of the Game, episode Lola in Lipstick, originally aired November 8, 1968
That Girl, episode The Face in the Shower Room Door, originally aired November 7, 1968
The Man from U.N.C.L.E., episode The When in Roma Affair, originally aired March 17, 1967
The Green Hornet, episode Corpse of the Year: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired January 13 and 20, 1967
Daniel Boone, episode When a King Is a Pawn, originally aired December 22, 1966
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., episode The Lethal Eagle Affair, originally aired November 29, 1966
Honey West, episode The Gray Lady, originally aired December 10, 1965
Daniel Boone, episode Cain's Birthday: Part 1 and 2, originally aired April 1, and 8, 1965
Bonanza, episode Woman of Fire, originally aired January 17, 1965
Arrest and Trial, episode Birds of a Feather, originally aired April 19, 1964
The Lucy Show, episode Lucy Meets a Millionaire, originally aired March 16, 1964
Breaking Point, episode A Child of the Center Ring, originally aired February 24, 1964
Vacation Playhouse, episode A Love Affair Just for Three, originally aired July 22, 1963
The Rifleman, episode The Guest, originally aired March 11, 1963
Stoney Burke, episode Point of Entry, originally aired March 4, 1963
Alcoa Premiere, episode The Hat of Sergeant Martin, originally aired February 7, 1963
Outlaws, episode The Sooner, originally aired April 27, 1961
Zane Grey Theater, episode The Release, originally aired April 27, 1961
The Roaring 20's, episode Lucky Charm, originally aired February 18, 1961
Adventures in Paradise, episode Treasure Hunt, originally aired January 9, 1961
The Rifleman, episode Baranca, originally aired November 1, 1960
Tales of Wells Fargo, episode Vasquez, originally aired May 16, 1960
Five Fingers, episode Final Dream, originally aired December 5, 1959
The Rifleman, episode Duel of Honor, originally aired November 11, 1958

cesare danova now showing

Watch Cesare Danova in a July 1963 episode of Vacation Playhouse titled A Love Affair Just for Three

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