March 28, 1925 - January 23, 2021
Our father and grandfather, Alberto Grimaldi, lived a long and interesting life, filled with courage, ambition, artistic vision, curiosity, travel, loss, and success. Alberto had a strong, restless, and tenacious personality, and he used his nuanced intellect to wage determined legal battles for artistic freedom of expression, and brought to life many of Italian cinema’s greatest contributions. Alberto’s journey was one of resilience, of forging through many challenges and adventures, always looking ahead, always believing in the power of possibility. Alberto was born on March 28, 1925, in Naples, Italy to homemaker, Elena Anzoino Grimaldi, and attorney, Pasquale Grimaldi. He lived with his parents and sister, Giuseppina, “Pina,” until Pasquale’s sudden death from malaria in 1928. Due to financial hardship and the dangerous influence of the rising fascism, Elena sent ten-year-old Alberto to live in the household of three maiden aunts for a period of time. When the bombs of World War II dropped on Naples, Alberto recounted hiding in caves outside of the city as a teenager. The war years were difficult and dangerous, but he was committed to his education, graduating from Liceo Antonio Genovesi, and then studied law at the Universita’ degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, graduating in 1947. He started his own law firm in 1949. While in law school and working at NATO, he met and fell in love with a beautiful 22-year-old pianist studying classical music, Maria Rosaria Buongiorno, who was also working at NATO. Alberto, despite being an honorable young man, initially was never allowed to be alone with Maria, unless they were accompanied by their “chaperones,” six and eight year old Attilio and Ernesto Cesaro, family friends of Maria’s family. (Alberto would eventually become Godfather to the little chaperones’ younger brother, Gianni, and the Cesaro boys would all eventually become Godfathers to Alberto and Maria’s future children.) Maria and Alberto were part of the young, optimistic, post-war generation committed to the rebuilding of Italy. These joy-filled years were full of hard work, growing a successful law practice, marrying, and starting a young family. Massimo was born in 1954, Maurizio was born in 1956, and Marcello was born in 1963. During the 1950’s Alberto began representing several regional film distributors, and his practice grew such that the major American film companies, Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox sought his services. Alberto won a landmark case for Columbia on distribution practices and, on the heels of this success, Columbia invited him to open another office in Rome so that he could represent them throughout Italy. Alberto and Maria made the decision to leave their childhood city, and move their young family. Once in Rome, Alberto’s legal work with film companies, producers, and distributors led him through the creative and fascinating film world, which gave birth to the idea that producing films was exactly what he wanted to do himself. In 1962, he opened his first production company, PEA, Produzioni Europee Associate, and thus, a storied career was born. Alberto began acquiring rights to stories, hiring directors, and financing low-budget films. He sought out Sergio Leone after seeing A Fistful of Dollars, and proceeded to produce two of his seminal works, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. They were instant classics and resoundingly successful, international hits. After this success, Alberto turned to producing even more ambitious films, supporting film auteurs concerned with more personal and political expression: Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Gillo Pontecorvo, Elio Petri, and many others. He was a champion and fierce protector of freedom of expression, and films that pushed the cultural and political norms. Alberto fought many legal battles with the Italian government over censorship issues, but always won. He felt fortunate and grateful to have the assistance and support of his life-long friends and lawyers Luigi Di Majo and Silvio Tonazzi. The Curator of The National Film Library, Sergio Toffetti, said, “It is to Grimaldi that we are indebted for the most irreverent works of the Italian cinema…and it is to him and his courage in having fought the battle for freedom of expression that we owe the victory he won for the entire culture of our country.” The 1960’s and early 70’s were the golden period for Alberto’s career and artistic success. But they were also a boisterous and fun time with his family and friends. Alberto loved the sea, having grown up by the bay of Naples. He would often tell us about how he would row his boat for hours over the turquoise waters, admiring the yellow beauty of the rocks along the Amalfi coast. He shared his love of the ocean, taking his family and friends often to the sea on one of his various boats. He organized trips to Sardinia and Sicily hosting his friend and favorite screenwriter, Franco Solinas, and his children, Francesco and Francesca. Other times, Alberto would organize our family trips with our closest family friends, Carmine, Rosi, Gianni, Paola, and Anna Trimarco. We would explore all over the Mediterranean. Alberto loved joining his family during summers on Ischia, swimming, water skiing, and of course, relishing the Neapolitan cuisine - pasta alle vongole, parmigiana di melanzane, and his favorite dessert -- la pastiera. Alberto’s full and stimulating life continued for many years, despite his legal battles. He and his directors flourished at a time when film was seen as an important voice to engage with the larger cultural and political forces. But it was also a fraught and dangerous period in Italy’s history as well. In 1975, after an armed robbery where Maria and the children were held at gunpoint in the family home, Alberto was worried about the possibility of his family being kidnapped. He decided it was time to make the move to the United States, a place he had long-standing ties to since their time working at NATO in the 1940’s and later with Hollywood. After several years in New York City, Alberto and Maria moved with Maurizio and Marcello to sunny Los Angeles where he settled into life working in Hollywood. Massimo, by this time, was living in Cambridge going to M.I.T. Alberto opened his new offices on Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills, and Maurizio joined him after Columbia University. Together, they developed scripts, worked with directors, and managed his extensive film library. Sadly, after 34 years of a loving and fruitful marriage, his beloved Maria died suddenly in 1987. Alberto continued to live and work in Los Angeles until after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and then he decided to return to Europe. He lived between Monte Carlo and London, continuing to develop films, working with writers and directors. In 2002 he completed his final film, Gangs of New York, which resulted in ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Producer. During his time while living in Monte Carlo and London, Alberto would often visit Maurizio, Mary and Isabella in Los Angeles, and Massimo, Carmen, Alessandro, and Massimiliano in Miami. He also loved taking his family on fun-filled adventures throughout Italy, sharing and introducing his culture to his grandchildren. We went eating and exploring during the spring in Positano, skied during winter holidays in Cortina, ate risotto and attended Midnight Christmas Eve mass in a flooded San Marco in Venice, and discovered Renaissance art in Tuscany. For the last years of his European life, Alberto lived in Rome with Massimo, Carmen, Alessandro, and Massimiliano. Marcello would visit when he could. These were very special trips and times of meaning and memories, made with family. Alberto made his final return to the United States for the last years of his life. He lived in Massimo’s Miami home facing the sea, gazing daily upon a view he loved. He enjoyed being surrounded by his family, and especially loved seeing his grandchildren. He was cared for and delighted in the joyful companionship and delicious cooking of Andrea Querci and Victor Martinez. Alberto was a big presence in our lives. Together, we celebrate the good in his life, and we are grateful he was our father and grandfather. We will cherish and carry him in our hearts forever. We love you, Papa’ and Nonno.
Our father and grandfather, Alberto Grimaldi, lived a long and interesting life, filled with courage, ambition, artistic vision, curiosity, travel, loss, and success. Alberto had a strong, restless, and tenacious personality, and he used his... View Obituary & Service Information
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