They have shaped the history of the theater: Eduardo with his social commitment plays, Peppino with his humor, Titina with her masterful theatrical and film interpretations.
They belonged to a large family of actors, founded by actor and playwright Eduardo Scarpetta of Naples, continued by his numerous children and grandchildren, almost all actors, writers and directors of theater. Titina, Eduardo and Peppino were children of Eduardo Scarpetta and Luisa De Filippo, niece of Scarpetta’s wife, Rosa De Filippo.
Eduardo Scarpetta had had an “exuberant” love life. In addition to the children he had with his legitimate wife Rosa De Filippo: Domenico Scarpetta (probably natural son of Vittorio Emanuele II and Rosa De Filippo) and Vincenzo Scarpetta, he had more children as a result of his many relationships.
Maria Scarpetta was born from a relationship with Francesca Giannetti, music teacher. Another relationship was with Anna De Filippo, sister of Rosa. This link probably took place in two periods: in the first period (1876) Ernesto Murolo would be born, according to rumors of the time, then “adopted” by the spouses Vincenzo Murolo and Maria Palumbo, in the second period (years 1903-1906) were born Eduardo De Filippo (actor, aka Eduardo Passarelli) and Pasquale De Filippo.
Eduardo Scarpetta had also a long relationship with Luisa De Filippo, who bore him three children. On March 27, 1898 was born Annunziata De Filippo, known as Titina. On May 24 1900 Luisa had Eduardo De Filippo. The last brother De Filippo, Giuseppe, known by the nickname Peppino, was born August 24, 1903.
Luisa, who worked as a seamstress in the theater of Eduardo Scarpetta, raised the children with the help of their father in an apartment sited in Via Bausan 28, near the Palace Scarpetta in Via Vittoria Colonna 4, where the rest the large family lived. Later they moved into an apartment in Via dei Mille.
The three De Filippo had the instinct of acting already very young. In the afternoon their mother went to the theater for his work, leaving the children entrusted to the caretaker of the building. The three aspiring actors, left alone, organized small theater on the balcony that overlooked the courtyard of the building where they lived. The shutter served as curtain. They were so pleasant and good that had a devoted audience among the residents, who were enjoying the little plays from their windows. Someone rewarded them with boxes of chocolates and candies.
Soon they began to tread the boards. Titina began her early career in the company of his father, Eduardo Scarpetta. She played as in roles of a boy, as “Peppeniello” in “Miseria e Nobiltà”, or in the role of schoolgirl in “Nu Ministro mieze e guaie”. She did not find more suitable roles adolescent age, reached teen age. She used the lull to improve her acting skills.
Her brother Eduardo, who made his debut in the theater at just four years in a scene from “La geisha” in the arms of an actor, began working with Titina in the theater company of Scarpetta. Soon his mother, to ensure a good education to the two sons, enrolled Eduardo and Peppino at the “College Chierchia“. During his time in college Eduardo delighted to write plays related to the school environment, which amused students and professors.
They finished school early. Eduardo, only fourteen years old, was engaged by the half-brother Vincenzo Scarpetta in his company with Titina. Three years later Vincenzo Scarpetta joined the company even the last of the brothers De Filippo, Peppino.
Eduardo did his military service in the corps of “bersaglieri” in Rome. During the service he organized plays for fellow soldiers. In this period he wrote his first real play: “Farmacia di turno”, represented by Vincenzo Scarpetta.
Titina, at age 23, left his half-brother company to be hired by Francesco Corbinci, actor-manager of a company that was specialized in musical comedies. Pietro Carloni also worked as an actor in the same. Titina fell in love with him. They married in 1922. The following year, the two had their only son, Augusto.
Eduardo and Peppino continued to play in the Scarpetta company. In 1922 Eduardo made his directorial debut in the poetic-musical comedy “Surriento gentile”, one of the first plays of the genre “sceneggiata” (popular musical play), written by Enzo Lucio Murolo, postal worker. Enzo Lucio Murolo is quoted on a marble plaque, located in the building of the Central Post Office in Naples, along with many other artists and poets Neapolitan postal operator employees.
In 1927 Eduardo De Filippo formed with Michele Galdieri his own company which joined Peppino and Titina. On this occasion Eduardo met the American Dorothy Pennington, whom he married the following year.
In the same year, dissolved the company with Galdieri, the three brothers founded a new team called “Compagnia Comica napoletana d’Arte Moderna – De Filippo“. They staged some comedy written by the two brothers De Filippo: “Sik Sik l’artefice magico” of Eduardo and “Don Rafele o trumbone” of Peppino with the collaboration of Galdieri.
In 1929 Peppino De Filippo married actress Adele Carloni, who already had known years before as she was the sister of Titina husband, Pietro Carloni. The following year he had his only son, Luigi.
In 1931 Eduardo, Titina and Peppino founded the “Compagnia del teatro Umoristico – De Filippo“. With this team the three brothers became famous.The company joined the partnership in time the most Neapolitan talented comedians: Agostino Salvietti, Tina Pica, Dolores Palumbo, Pietro Carloni and many others.
On December 25, 1931 the company debuted at the Kursaal theater in Via dei Mille at Naples with the most popular Eduardo play “Natale in casa Cupiello”. The play ended early in the second act, the third act was later added, where it was represented the discomfort of the daughter of the protagonist, Ninuccia, with the confession of the breakdown of his marriage. This play began the sad farce, accompanied by social commitment, which was the figure of the narrative of Eduardo plays.
After the success with “Natale in casa Cupiello”, the contract with the Kursaal, which was to last nine days, was extended to nine months. The plays that were recited after the film had to be constantly changed. The De Filippo was facilitated because in Eduardo Scarpetta extended family were present numerous playwrights. Plays of Maria Scarpetta, sister of De Filippo, of the poet Ernesto Murolo, presumed son of Scarpetta, of the same Peppino and Titina, as well as of Eduardo were performed.
In 1932, after the performances at the Kursaal, the three brothers moved to the Teatro Sannazzaro, in Via Chiaia, where they continued to represent plays written by them or their family members, as well as Gino Rocca and Michele Galdieri.
The friendship between Luigi Pirandello and Eduardo persuaded the brothers to be ripe to abbandone dialect plays to performed Italian language works throughout Italy. They were the plays of Pirandello to be presented in major cities theaters: “Liolà”, under the direction of the same Eduardo, protagonist Peppino: “Il berretto a sonagli”, “Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore”.
The meeting with Pirandello did not spark immediate artistic results, it made to mature into the three brothers a particular dialect version, the Neapolitan slang with a splash of Italian lenguage, or perhaps on the contrary, which resulted understandable to the public throughout Italy. The result of this development was the script “Questi fantasmi”, the more Neapolitan, but also Italian, of Eduardo plays.
The three De Filippo alternated the play works with the movies. The first film which was attended starring Eduardo and Peppino was “Tre uomini in frac” directed by Mario Bonnard in 1932. They followed “Quei due”, “Il cappello a tre punte”, “A che servono questi quattrini”, “Non ti pago” with Titina, ” Casanova farebbe così” and numerous others films made with more than annual basis.
In 1944, during the rehearsal for a performance at the Diana theater, there was a terrible quarrel between Eduardo and Peppino. Peppino taunted Eduardo for his tyranny on the scene. Eduardo suspected in turn that Peppino was in question with the theatrical manager Remigio Paone and then he was about to leave the team.
“La Compagnia del Teatro Umoristico – De Filippo” was dissolved after the quarrel. Eduardo founded a new company, “Il Teatro di Eduardo“, which was associated the sister Titina who continued to act with her brother. Peppino continued his career as an author, actor and director, expressing artistically with a lighter humor.
In 1946, Eduardo created her masterpiece, “Filumena Marturano”, after writing “Questi Fantasmi”. He represented the social problems that, however, already present in his scripts as previous “Naples Millionaire”.
In 1948 he bought the San Ferdinando Theater, badly damaged during the war by bombing. Eduardo invested significant capital in the reconstruction work of the theater, which ended in 1953. It was inaugurated on January 22, 1954 with the representation of “Palummella zompa e vola” written by Antonio Petito, under the direction of the same Eduardo, who played the part of Pulcinella.
In those years, he separated from his wife Dorothy Pennington, to join the singer and actress Thea Prandi who married in 1956, after the annulment of his first marriage. She had two children: Luisa, died young in 1960, and Luca who followed his father’s footsteps as an actor and director. Thea died in 1961.
Plays written by Eduardo are a large number. After “Filumena Marturano”, which marked a turning point in its production, he wrote “Le voci di dentro”, “De Pretore Vincenzo”, “Sabato, domenica e lunedì”, “Il sindaco del rione Sanità”, “Gli esami non finiscono mai” just to name some of the more important of plays.
He participated in several film productions, besides those already mentioned shooted before separation from Peppino: Assunta Spina, Napoli Milionaria (director and star), Filumena Marturano (director and star), Napoletani a Milano, where he handled the topic of emigration from the south, Questi Fantasmi, Re Ferdinando I di Napoli. These films are just a small example among the approximately 50 films made as an actor, sometimes even as a director, scriptwriter and screenwriter.
In 1977 he made his third marriage to Isabella Quarantotti.
In 1980, on the occasion of the serious illness that led the death of Peppino, there was a meeting between the two brothers, according to Luigi De Filippo, son of Peppino, led to reconciliation. If this reconciliation took really, Eduardo not confirmed. After the death of his brother he said, “Now I miss him, as a partner, as a friend, but not as a brother. ”
In 1981 he was appointed senator for life by the President of the Republic Sandro Pertini in recognition of his artistic and social commitment.
Eduardo died in Rome. It was the evening of October 31, 1984, while his son Luca recited at the Diana theater in Naples.
Luca De Filippo made his debut just seven years as “Peppeniello” in Poverty and Nobility, in his father’s company. In the following years he continued his theatrical activity in the company, covering the roles before the stooge and then as co-star and protagonist in the comedy repertoire of Eduardo.
He participated in numerous films of which the best known were: I Giovani Tigri, Sabato Domenica e Lunedì, Mannaggia alla Miseria. In 2014, he took part in the documentary “Eduardo: la vita che continua”. Very important some television productions in which he performed: Naso di Cane (1985), Il Ricatto (1989).
In 2015 he was appointed manager of the School of Performing Arts of the Teatro Stabile of Naples, with headquarters in San Ferdinando theater, that Eduardo donated to the City of Naples. Unfortunately on November 27, 2015 he died, leaving open all his theatrical activities.
Peppino, with the collaboration of the manager Remigio Paone, founded a new theater team, “Compagnia del Teatro Italiano“, after the quarrel with his brother and the consequent separation. He intended to overcome the limitations of a dialect repertoire, as opposition and distinction from Eduardo. He had already begun freeing the Neapolitan slang with the Roman representation of “Imputato alziamoci” by Michele Galdieri. This did not mean the abandonment of the slang, but the use was limited to sound bites and individual expressions, as part of a play in Italian understandable by all audiences.
Meanwhile he separated his wife Adele Carloni and he had a love affair with the actress Lidia Maresca, aka Lidia Martora.
“Quel bandito sono io” was a play written by Peppino De Filippo. It was staged at the Mercadante Theater in Naples. It deeply divided” the critics. The criticts of comunist party saw in the interpretation of Peppino a review of “commedia dell’arte”, with a comedy of refined clown, to exalt his brother Eduardo. the other critics appreciated the successful attempt to free his work from the theater of Eduardo, all engaged in the representation of social problems.
Peppino, after the war, took part in a long series of films, almost a hundred, most of them filmed along with Totò. Most were commercial films that exploited the exceptional comic vis of the two. There was also important films: Luci del Varietà (Federico Fellini and Alberto Lattuada, 1950), Una di Quelle (Aldo Fabrizi, 1953), La Banda degli Onesti (Camillo Mastrocinque, 1956), in addition to the long list of “Totò, Peppino e ….”.
In 1971 he married his partner Lidia Maresca, dying after a long illness. In 1977 he married the actress Lelia Mangano.
Peppino represented in television, in the program Scala Reale, the part of Gaetano Pappagone, domestic of the Commander Peppino De Filippo, which made him famous to the television audience. It was on that occasion that he invented “carta dindirindà” for “identity card”, which remained an idiom in Italian family spoken.
On January 27, 1980 Peppino De Filippo died in Rome because of a liver cirrhosis, he had 76 years.
His son Luigi De Filippo, born in 1930 from the marriage with Adele Carloni, followed the father’s footsteps as an actor and playwright.
He worked in the “Compagnia del Teatro Italiano”, founded by his father, playing roles as co-star and protagonist. In 1978 he founded his own company. He played leading roles in numerous films including: Filumena Marturano (1951), Lazzarella (1958), Le Quattro Giornate di Napoli (1962), Nel Nome del Popolo Sovrano (1990).
He participated in several television works including “Storie di Camorra” (1977), “La Piovra 3” (1987), “Un Posto al Sole”, “Pupetta, Coraggio e Passione”.
In 2011 he became the director of the Parioli theater which took the name “Teatro Parioli – Peppino De Filippo”.
She remained in Eduardo company after the quarrel of the brothers, in 1945 she was the star, with his brother, of the famous performance at the San Carlo Theater of the comedy “Napoli Milionaria”. The audience, at the end of the play, cried and applauded, a real triumph. Eduardo was able to interpret the true Naples, the suffering post-war city, in which all the Neapolitans recognized themselves.
She was the undisputed star of “Filumena Marturano”, written by Eduardo thinking of her as the protagonist. Only Sophia Loren, in “Matrimonio all’italiana” film, adapted from the same play, was able to give an interpretation as good as Titina’s.
She participated in numerous films including: Assunta Spina (1948), Napoli Milionaria (directed by Eduardo, 1950), Filumena Marturano (Eduardo, 1951), Re Ferdinando I di Napoli (1959), which was the only film where the three brothers returned together to recite after 1944.
In 1951 a heart failure began to manifest that led her to dispel her appearances on stage. She devoted herself to painting and collages with a certain artistic success.
She alternated to writing some comedies of the activities set designer, screenwriter and dialogue writer for some of Eduardo’s brother works.
In 1959 she retired from the stage at the worsening of the disease. On December 26, 1963 died in Rome at age 65.
His only son, Augusto Carloni, made the director and screenwriter of several theatrical and film works. He became parliamentary journalist, lending his work for news agencies AGI and ASCA. He collaborated with RAI and with the weekly “Epoca”. He wrote the biography “Titina De Filippo: la vita di una donna di teatro”.
Augusto Carloni died on March 9, 1997 at the age of 73.
Three brothers, one story: that of the Italian theater.
Augusto Carloni, Natale in casa De Filippo, Napoli, Benincasa, 1993
Peppino De Filippo: Una famiglia difficile,Napoli, Marotta,1976
Augusto Carloni, Titina De Filippo: vita di una donna di teatro, Milano, Rusconi, 1984