«Raimondo and Sandra. Sandra and Raymond. You can’t talk about one and leave out the other. A total union that of most iconic among Italian couples. More than 50 years of career side by side, between the spotlights of the stages and the home. They were the great-uncles of modern Italian television, champions of sitcoms and top representatives of the great sequined and sequined varieties of mother Rai.»
That television which opened its doors for the first time in 1954, a little shy and awkward, saw in Sandra and Raymondor confident protagonists, capable of conquering the public with the genuineness of their humor. But before an artistic partnership, theirs was above all a great love story.
Raymond Vianelloborn in 1922, son of an admiral of the Regia Marina, he had graduated in Law, fulfilling the wishes of his father who dreamed of him as a diplomat. A career that quickly turns out to be narrow for a 28-year-old boy who, after the war, realized he wanted to be a comic. Dalla had that natural sarcasm that will distinguish him in the theater and on the small and big screen. English-style aplomb, one humour elegant, fun but never vulgar. The opportunity of his life comes to him by chance: a friend gets him an audition with Garinei and Giovannini, authors of the magazine Cantachiaro No. 2. His first role is that of a soldier. To be an actor, he gives up a potential career successful soccer player: Palermo, then in Serie B, had contacted him in 1946 offering him 30,000 Lire a month.
He knows Sandra Mondaini in 1958. Sandra had grown up on bread and theater: born in 1931 in Milan, she was the daughter of the painter and humorist Giacinto Mondaini and had left the studio very early to help the family financially. She starts like model for magazines and advertisements up to theatre, television and cinema. Peperino character, pungent humor, he joined Macario’s company in 1955. Between the dressing rooms and the stage wings, he met Raimondo’s gaze for the first time: they were both acting in Sayonara Butterflya parody of Madame Butterfly by Puccini.
They become Sandra and Raimondo al third month of tour. While the company is all gathered at the table, Raimondo orders a Milanese cutlet, turns to Sandra and says: “But did you know that I fell in love with you?”. Four years later they find themselves married, after leaving their respective boyfriends at the time. Years later Raimondo would declare: “I am thrilled with my marriage experience with Sandra, and would definitely do it again. With another.”
Together they become i protagonists of Italian television together with many well-known faces of the time such as Gino Bramieri, Johnny Dorelli, but above all Ugo Tognazzi. Who was there, will remember the program One two three, in which Vianello and Tognazzi staged hard satire sketches. So hard that the program ended up a victim of censorship for having mentioned an episode that happened to the then President of the Republic, Giovanni Gronchi. In fact, it seems that the Head of State had fallen to the ground for the removal of a chair, next to Charles de Gaulle, distracted by a beautiful lady. The duo repeated the skit: Tognazzi fell to the ground and Vianello asked him: “But who do you think you are?”. For the next four episodes they were forced to record the rehearsal audio, which had to go to the review by censors.
Sandra and Raimondo continue among television successes for Rai until 1981: bickering and teasing are the trump card of their being a true couple on the set and in life. The plot of their sketches is more or less always the same: a bored and sagacious Sandra against a Raimondo who is always attracted by younger and more beautiful showgirls, who often accompany them in their shows.
The famous “What a beard, what a bore!” of a kicking Sandra in the double bed next to a Raimondo intent on reading the Gazzetta dello Sport will become the emblem of their most successful work, Vianello house. The series, broadcast by Mediaset networks from 1988 to 2007is now part of Italian mass culture and is one of the longest running sitcoms of the Italian landscape. Its success comes from the sensation of really spying behind the curtains of the couple’s apartment. The scripts were always accompanied by a lot of improvisation.
After all, after 50 years together, we know each other inside out and the comic times of each other simply become everyday life. And then the sad epilogue. Raimondo Vianello died on April 15, 2010 at the age of almost eighty-eight from a kidney complication. Sandra follows him only five months later. Sandra and Raimondo, Raimondo and Sandra, were in such a total union that they no longer recognized each other as single entities.
And maybe that’s why they are remembered with so much affection and so much joy: they are witnesses of a courteous television that is slowly disappearing amidst the deranged cries of talk shows and the excesses of reality TV. Cheerfulness and a bit of healthy envy, because in this world of uncertainties, the certainty of their union makes us dream. Otherwise why would we scream excitedly together with Kolkatain Of the Green: “Dress as Sandra, I’ll be your Raimondo!”?
Photo Cover: Wikipedia