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Hill started his career as a child actor and went on to multiple starring roles in action and comedy films, many with longtime film partner and friend Bud Spencer. During the height of his popularity Hill was among Italy's highest-paid actors.
Hill's most widely seen films include comic and standard Westerns all´Italiana ("Italian-style Westerns", colloquially called "Spaghetti Westerns"), some based on popular novels by German author Karl May about the American frontier. Of these, the most famous are Lo chiamavano Trinità (They Call Me Trinity, 1970) and Il mio nome è Nessuno (My Name Is Nobody, 1973), co-starring Henry Fonda. His film Django, Prepare a Coffin, shot in 1968 by director Ferdinando Baldi, and co-starring Horst Frank and George Eastman, was featured at the 64th Venice Film Festival in 2007.
Hill, whose stage name was the product of a publicity stunt by film producers, also went on to a successful television career in Italy.
He was discovered by Italian filmmaker Dino Risi at a swimming meet at the age of 12, and became a child actor, appearing in Vacanze col Gangster (Vacation with a Gangster, 1951). His early roles also included Gli sbandati (The Abandoned, 1955).
In 1967, he returned to Italy to act in God Forgives... I Don't!.
Also in 1968, Hill changed his name from Mario Girotti to Terence Hill, a name made up by the film producers; he had to choose from a list of twenty names and picked the one with his mother's initials. There is a persistent rumour that he took his last name, "Hill", from his wife's maiden name, but this is incorrect, for it was Zwicklbauer.
In the following years, he starred in many action and Spaghetti Westerns, together with longtime colleague and friend Bud Spencer. The pair made a large number of Italian Westerns and other films together, and were notable for their comedy films, successful not only in Italy, but also abroad. Many of these have alternate titles, depending upon the country and distributor.
Hill later went on to a television career in Italy; in 2000, he landed the leading role in the Italian television series Don Matteo (2000–), about an inspirational parish priest who assists the Carabinieri corp. in solving crimes local to his community. This role earned Hill an international "Outstanding Actor of the Year" award at the 42nd Monte Carlo Television Festival, alongside ones for the series, and for producer Alessandro Jacchia at that festival.
In the summer of 2010, Hill filmed another Italian television series for the Italian state television channel Rai Uno, this time entitled Un passo dal cielo (One Step from Heaven), playing a local chief of the state foresters in the region of Alto Adige, with a second season filmed in 2012.
Hill is married to Lori Hill (née Zwicklbauer). He has two sons, Jess (born 1969) and Ross (1973-1990). Ross was killed in a car accident in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in the winter of 1990, while Terence was preparing to film Lucky Luke (1991) on the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
He has directed several films as well as several television productions like La chiamavano Maryam (2017) as My name is Thomas (2018).
Carlo Pedersoli (31 October 1929 – 27 June 2016), known professionally as Bud Spencer, was an Italian actor, professional swimmer and water polo player. He is known for action-comedy roles with his long-time film partner Terence Hill. The duo "garnered world acclaim and attracted millions to theater seats". Spencer and Hill appeared in, produced and directed over 20 films together.
A successful swimmer in his youth, he obtained a degree in law and registered several patents. Spencer also became a certified commercial airline and helicopter pilot, and supported and funded many children's charities, including the Spencer Scholarship Fund.
Son of Alessandro Pedersoli and Rosa Facchetti, Carlo Pedersoli was born on 31 October 1929 in Santa Lucia, a historical rione in Naples and in the same building as the writer Luciano De Crescenzo. Pedersoli started school in 1935, along with De Crescenzo. He played several sports and showed an aptitude for swimming, winning prizes. In 1940, due to his father's work, he moved to Rome, where he attended high school and joined a swimming club. He finished school before his seventeenth birthday with the highest marks and enrolled at Sapienza University of Rome, where he studied chemistry. In January 1947, the family moved to South America and Pedersoli discontinued his studies. From 1947 to 1949, he worked in the Italian consulate in Recife, Brazil, where he learned to speak fluent Portuguese.
Pedersoli returned to Italy in 1949 to play water polo in Rome for Società Sportiva Lazio Nuoto and won the Italian swimming championships in freestyle and mixed relay teams. As a professional swimmer in his youth, Spencer was the first Italian to swim the 100 m freestyle in less than one minute when on 19 September 1950 he swam the distance in 59.5 s in Salsomaggiore. In 1949 he made his international debut and a year later he was called up for the European championships in Vienna where he swam in two finals, finishing fifth in the 100 m and fourth in the relay 4×200 m.
In the 1951 Mediterranean Games in Alexandria (Egypt), he won a silver medal in the same 100m freestyle event. Carlo participated in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, reaching the semi-finals in the 100m freestyle (58.8 s heats, 58.9 s semi final). Four years later, in Melbourne, he also entered the semi-finals in the same category (58.5 s heat, 59.0 s semi final).
As a water polo player, he won the Italian Championship in 1954 with S.S. Lazio and the gold medal at 1955 Mediterranean Games in Barcelona with the Italian national team. His swimming career ended abruptly in 1957.
On 17 January 2005, he was awarded the Caimano d'oro (Gold Caiman) by the Italian Swimming Federation. On 24 January 2007, he received swimming and water polo coach diplomas from the Italian Swimming Federation's president Paolo Barelli.
Pedersoli's first film role was in Quel fantasma di mio marito, an Italian comedy shot in 1949 and released in 1950.
In 1951 he played a member of the Praetorian Guard in Quo Vadis, an epic film shot in Italy made by MGM and directed by Mervyn LeRoy. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Spencer appeared playing minor parts in Italian including Mario Monicelli's movie A Hero of Our Times, with Alberto Sordi and the 1954 war film Human Torpedoes with Raf Vallone.
In 1960, after the Summer Olympic games, Pedersoli married Maria Amato, daughter of Italian film producer Giuseppe Amato. He signed a contract with RCA Records to write lyrics for singers such as Ornella Vanoni and Nico Fidenco and soundtracks.
In the following years, his son Giuseppe was born (1961), followed by Cristiana (1962), his contract with RCA expired and his father-in-law died (1964). Carlo became a producer of documentaries for the national public broadcasting company RAI.
In 1967 film director Giuseppe Colizzi offered him a role in God Forgives... I Don't!. On the set Pedersoli met Mario Girotti (Terence Hill). Although Bud Spencer had met Mario Girotti before on the set of Hannibal in 1959, this was the moment they went on to become a film duo. The film director asked the two actors to change their names, deeming them to be too Italian-sounding for a Western movie: Carlo chose Bud Spencer, with Bud inspired by Budweiser beer and Spencer by the actor Spencer Tracy.
While Hill's characters were agile and youthful, Spencer always played the "phlegmatic, grumpy strong-arm man with a blessed, naive child's laughter and a golden heart". Overall, Hill and Spencer worked together on over 20 films, including (named using their most common U.S. titles) God Forgives... I Don't! (1967), Ace High (1968), Boot Hill (1969), They Call Me Trinity (1970), Trinity Is Still My Name (1971), All the Way, Boys (1972), Watch Out, We're Mad (1974), Two Missionaries (1974), Crime Busters (1977), Odds and Evens (1978), I'm For the Hippopotamus (1979), Who Finds a Friend Finds a Treasure (1981), Go For It! (1983), Double Trouble (1984), Miami Supercops (1985) and Troublemakers (1994).
Films with Bud Spencer alone include The Five Man Army (1969), Even Angels Eat Beans (1969), The Fifth Day of Peace (1969), It Can Be Done Amigo (1972), Flatfoot (1973), They Call Him Bulldozer (1978), The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid (1979), Everything Happens to Me (1980), Banana Joe (1982), Bomber (1982) and Superfantagenio (1986).
Many of these have alternative titles, depending upon the country and distributor. Some have longer Italian versions that were edited for their release abroad. These films gathered popularity for both actors, especially in Europe.
Because of the duo's huge popularity, many producers wanted to exploit their likeness with visually similar duos. Most notable were Paul L. Smith (adopted name Adam Eden in later years, sometimes credited Anam Eden) and Michael Coby (real name Antonio Cantafora) with at least 6 movies in Bud & Terence-fashion from 1973 to 1977, and István Bujtor with 6 movies in Piedone-fashion from 1981 to 2008.
In the Italian versions of his films, Spencer was usually dubbed by actor Glauco Onorato due to his thick Naples accent, although he was voiced by Sergio Fiorentini in Troublemakers, To the Limit (1997) and the series of Extralarge (1991–93). In English dubs, Bud was usually voiced by Richard McNamara or Edward Mannix.
Bud wrote the complete or partial screenplay for some of his movies. His feature film career slowed down after 1983, shifting more toward television. In the 1990s, he acted in the television action-drama Extralarge. His autobiography was published in 2011. In addition, Spencer also published a recipe book including his favorite dishes.
In 2005, he entered politics, unsuccessfully standing as regional councillor in Lazio for the Forza Italia party. Spencer stated: "In my life, I've done everything. There are only three things I haven't been – a ballet dancer, a jockey and a politician. Given that the first two jobs are out of the question, I'll throw myself into politics." The opposition criticised him for engaging in "politica spettacolo" ("showbiz politics").
Bud had three children: Giuseppe (1961), Cristiana (1962) and Diamante (1972).
After appearing in Più forte, ragazzi!, Spencer became a jet airplane and helicopter pilot; he founded Mistral Air in 1984, an air-mail company that also transports pilgrims, but later sold it to Poste Italiane. Spencer's grandson, Carlo Pedersoli Jr. is a mixed martial arts fighter currently signed the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Spencer died aged 86 on 27 June 2016 in Rome. As son Giuseppe Pedersoli stated, his father "died without pain in presence of his family and his last word was 'grazie'". He was survived by his wife, three children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
In Hungary, where his films were hugely popular during the communist regime, a larger-than-life-sized bronze statue of Spencer created by sculptor Szandra Tasnádi was unveiled on November 11, 2017 in downtown Budapest, with Spencer's daughter Cristiana in attendance. The statue's pedestal bears the inscription "Mi sohasem veszekedtünk" ("We Never Fought"), a quote from Terence Hill's eulogy referring to their long-lasting friend- and partnership.
Spencer posthumuously received the America Award in 2018 from the Italy-USA Foundation.