Edit
Franco Merli Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (2)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 31 October 1956Rome, Lazio, Italy
Nickname Franchino

Mini Bio (1)

Franco Merli was born on October 31, 1956 in Rome, Italy. In 1973, famous Italian poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini discovered the youngster. The 16-year-old was working as a gas station attendant at that time (as Ninetto Davoli, a friend of Pasolini and actor in most of his films, recounts). Pasolini was searching for a young man to play the lead in his upcoming feature Arabian Nights (Arabian Nights (1974)). The director immediately knew that Franco Merli, with his small but muscular physique, dark Mediterranean looks, and ready smile, was the perfect choice for the role of Nur Ed Din.

Arabian Nights was an international success and Merli got a taste for the film business. Following his debut he appeared (his hair dyed blond) in La collegiale (1975), a rather stupid soft-sex-comedy that did little for his reputation other than showing that he was able to play an unsympathetic character, as well.

In 1975 Pasolini hired him once again, for the role of one of the male victims in his infamous Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) or the 120 Days of Sodom (Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma). In this film, Merli was, like the other non-professional actors, addressed by his real first name, Franco. The director chose Merli once again, not only because he embodied the "Pasolini-type" to a fault but also because the young actor had already proven in Arabian Nights that he was perfectly comfortable appearing nude in front of a camera. In a way, Salò made Franco's face immortal since one of the most highly publicised images of the film was the close-up of young Merli as his tongue is cut out in the final torture scenes. Another famous still (from the scene where the victims are forced to pose as dogs) prominently showed Franco naked, on all fours, only 'wearing' a dog collar - a fact that didn't help further his career.

In 1976, Merli appeared on-screen as Fernando, the son of Nino Manfredi, who earns his money as a transvestite prostitute in Down and Dirty (Ugly, Dirty and Bad (1976)). This brilliant social satire by Italian director Ettore Scola was also (but for a small part in Il malato immaginario (1979)) Franco Merli's swan song as an actor. Incidently, it is probable that he secured the role of Fernando thanks to his connection with Pasolini, since the director not only was a friend of Scola but also had been supposed to write a foreword to the film - but Pasolini was murdered before this came to pass.

Since Merli's mentor had died and his choice of roles (or perhaps the ones he got offered) had been a rather off-beat one, he soon didn't find work in the industry anymore, even though he had shown himself to be a versatile actor with a range from pure innocence to debauchery. And the fact that, as said above, he had become the "face" and "body" of Salò probably didn't help, either.

Today, Franco Merli lives in Rome and works in a bank. He has two sons and owns a dog (pinscher) called Attila.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: cossayos

Trivia (2)

Franco Merli was a gas station attendant in Sicily when he was discovered by director Pier Paolo Pasolini for the lead in "Il fiore delle mille e una notte". Since by that time (1973/74) he was reportedly 16 years old he must have been born around 1957/58. After appearing once again under Paolini's direction in "Salò" he did a few other films but the parts got smaller and smaller and by the beginning of the 1980's he vanished from sight (filmwise, that is).
Rome, Italy [March 2009]

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page