Raffaella Carrá, one of Italy’s best-loved singers and television presenters, died on Monday aged 78. Carrá became a symbol of sexual liberation not only in her own country, but in Spain and South America as well.
Her partner, Sergio Japino, 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 for ever.”
He said she had been battling an unnamed illness. It “attacked her body that was so diminutive and yet so full of overflowing energy”, Reuters reported.
Carrá was born in 1943, Raffaella Pelloni. She shot to fame as a pop singer in the 1970s when her sensual dancing, revealing costumes and sexually confident lyrics broke taboos in Catholic Italy.
She studied dance, and first became an actor in the “peplum” genre of Italian historical epic films. Carrá then moved to the US and acted opposite Frank Sinatra in Von Ryan’s Express (1965).
However, Carrá soon returned to Italy and became a host on television variety show Canzonissima.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Carrá, “with her laughter and her generosity accompanied generations of Italians and took the name of Italy around the world”.
Probably her best-known success “A far l’amore comincia tu,” urged women to take the lead sexually, with the lyric “show him it’s not a game, let him know what you want.”
Gay Pride icon
During the 1970s and ‘80s Carrá, who never married or had children, was probably Italy’s best-known television performer. She also enjoyed major international success in South America and Spain.
Carrá continued her TV career until 2019, including as a judge on the Italian edition of The Voice.
In her later years the Gay Pride movement adopted her as an icon. In 2017 she was chosen as a “godmother” to the World Pride event in Madrid.