ITALY – Raffaella Carrà, the pop singer and actor who was an entertainment icon in her native Italy, has died aged 78.
Her long-term partner, Sergio Iapino, announced her death, saying: “Raffaella has left us. She has gone to a better world, where her humanity, her unmistakable laugh and her extraordinary talent will shine forever.” He said she had been battling an unnamed illness for some time.
Carrà is best known in the UK for her single Do It, Do It Again, which reached No 9 in 1978 and spent 12 weeks on the chart. She enjoyed much greater success in Italy, where she was described in 1984 by magazine L’Espresso as: “More applauded than [president] Pertini, more expensive than [football player] Michel Platini, more miraculous than [modern saint] Padre Pio.”
Carrà hosted the Sanremo Music Festival in 2001, though over the next decade she was instrumental in Italy’s return to the Eurovision fold in 2011.
Fluent in four languages, Carrà also hosted Spain’s national selection Salvemos Eurovisión in 2008 and had numerous Eurovision alumni on her own RAI television shows.
Italy, with some help from Carrà as part of the negotiations between RAI and the EBU, returned to Eurovision in 2011, and Carrà herself presented Italy’s votes.
Born in Bologna in 1943, Carrà studied dance, and first became an actor in the “peplum” genre of Italian historical epic films. Buoyed by her success, she moved to the US and acted opposite Frank Sinatra and others in Von Ryan’s Express (1965), but soon returned to Italy and became a host on the television variety show Canzonissima, which frequently featured song-and-dance numbers performed by her.
With her outfits and routines regarded as racy by the era’s standards, she was occasionally censored, but her career endured throughout the 1970s. She also became hugely popular in Spain with another variety show, La Hora de Raffaella, and in South America after moving to Buenos Aires in 1979.
She was a gay icon across Europe and became regarded as a feminist icon, too: in its original Italian version, Do It, Do It Again encourages women to take control during sex. “I think Raffaella Carrà has done more to liberate women than many feminists,” said Francesco Vezzoli, curator of an exhibition of 1970s Italian television for Fondazione Prada in 2017.
Carrà returned to Italian television once more in 1983 with Pronto, Raffaella?, and continued her TV career until 2019, including as a judge on the Italian edition of The Voice. A Spanish musical based around her songs, Explota Explota, was released in 2020.
She released 25 studio albums during her career, most recently Ogni volta che è Natale in 2018.