Alberto Rabagliati

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Alberto Rabagliati (26 June 1906 – 7 March 1974) was an Italian singer. Rabagliati was born in Milan. In 1927, he moved to Hollywood as the winner of a Rudolph Valentino look-alike contest. He later recalled: "For someone like me, who had seen no more than Lake Como or Monza cathedral so far, finding myself on board a luxury steamer with three cases full of clothes, a few rolls of dollars, gran-duchesses and countesses flirting with me was something extraordinary". He remained four years in America, but his career as an actor never took off. During his stay he had however the opportunity to get to know new musical genres such as jazz, swing, scat singing. Back in Europe, he became a singer. After a brief experience with Pippo Barzizza's orchestra, he joined the Lecuona Cuban Boys, a Cuban band. He performed with his face painted black and made a hit with the song "Maria la O". While with the Lecuona Cuban Boys he met Giovanni D'Anzi who proposed him an audition with Italian state radio station EIAR. Rabagliati soon became a radio star, and in 1941 had his own radio show. Every Monday night EIAR aired Canta Rabagliati ("Rabagliati sings"), with the singer presenting his most famous songs such as "Ma l'amore no", "Mattinata fiorentina", "Ba-Ba-Baciami Piccina", "Silenzioso slow", "Bambina innamorata". He was so popular that his name was sung in the lyrics of La famiglia canterina, Quando canta Rabagliati, Quando la radio. At a time when anything foreign was banned, the idol Rabagliati was allowed to maintain his American-influenced style. Indeed, the Fascist government decided to make use of his popularity by choosing his song "Sposi (c'è una casetta piccina)" ("Wed (there's a little home)") as their demographic campaign anthem. His fame as a singer helped his acting career restart. From 1940 to 1965 he starred in some twenty movies, including The Barefoot Contessa, Montecarlo and Il vedovo. In 1966, he starred in The Christmas That Almost Wasn't. Rabagliati was active also on the stage until the mid-1950s. He performed in musical revues and comedies by Garinei and Giovannini. His last public appearance was in 1974 as a guest in the TV show Milleluci hosted by Mina and Raffaella Carrà. Soon afterward he died of cerebral thrombosis.