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Benigni Wins Oscar as Best Actor

March 22, 1999

Roberto Benigni’s exuberance may make as much an impression on Americans as his movies.

The Italian actor-director delighted the Academy Awards audience when he celebrated his best-actor honor with a bilingual stream of humility and enthusiasm. Accepting an earlier award, he clambered over the backs of his neighbors’ seats to greet presenter Sophia Loren.

Benigni won the hearts of moviegoers, including Pope John Paul II, with ``Life is Beautiful,″ in which he plays a father who uses humor to shield his son from the horrors of the Holocaust.

He was the first star of a foreign-language film to win the Oscar for actor.

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_From the podium: ``This is a terrible mistake because I used up all my English. ... I would like to be Jupiter and kidnap everybody and lie down in the firmament making love to everybody.″

_Some previous films: ``Down By Law,″ ``Night on Earth,″ ``Son of the Pink Panther;″ ``Johnny Stecchino,″ ``The Monster.″

_Bio: Age 46, born in Tuscany, Italy. He’s married actress to Nicoletta Braschi, with whom he co-starred in ``Life is Beautiful″ and ``Johnny Stecchino.″

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