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Mike Bongiorno

mike bongiorno, mike bongiorno biografia
Michael Nicholas Salvatore "Mike" Bongiorno Italian pronunciation:  May 26, 1924 in New York City – September 8, 2009 in Monte Carlo, was an American, naturalized Italian, television host After a few experiences in the US, he started working on Italian TV in the 1950s and was considered to be the most popular host in Italy He was also known by the nickname il Re del Quiz The Quiz King, and the peculiarity of starting all his shows with his trademark greeting: Allegria! Cheers!


  • 1 Early years
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Death
  • 4 Pasolini on television and Mike Bongiorno
  • 5 Honours and awards
    • 51 Honours
    • 52 Honorary degree
    • 53 Awards
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Early years

Bongiorno was born in New York City, but moved to Turin his mother's native city, when he was young His father was a Sicilian American lawyer During World War II Mike abandoned his studies and joined a group of Italian partisans He was captured and spent seven months in the San Vittore prison in Milan and was then deported to a German concentration camp He was liberated before the end of the war due to an exchange of war prisoners between the United States and Germany He returned to New York and in 1946 started work at the radio headquarters of Il Progresso Italo-Americano The Italian-American Progress newspaper


Bongiorno returned to Italy in 1953 He appeared on the first day of official public TV transmissions in Italy with Arrivi e partenze Arrivals and Departures on the TV channel RAI From 1955 to 1959 he hosted the quiz show Lascia o raddoppia, the Italian version of USA's The $64,000 Question

Another program was Campanile Sera Bell Tower Evening, 1959–1962, in which southern and northern Italian towns challenged each other with questions, and practical games played by citizens in the same towns

In 1963 Umberto Eco wrote an essay entitled Phenomenology of Mike Bongiorno, a bestseller in which he used advanced academic theories to shed light on Mike Bongiorno and his way of communicating Eco held that Mike Bongiorno was so good at portraying himself as no better than average in every respect, that 100% of his audience could feel good about themselves

Beginning in 1963, he hosted the first of eleven editions of the Sanremo Festival Then he hosted the quiz programs Caccia al numero Number Hunting, 1962, La Fiera dei Sogni Dream Fair, 1962–1965 and Giochi in Famiglia Games in Family, 1966–1969 But the greatest success came with the quiz program Rischiatutto 1970–1974, an adapted Italian version of Jeopardy!, with 20 to 30 million watchers every Thursday night, the highest audience in the history of Italian TV Other programs hosted by Bongiorno were the news talk show Ieri e Oggi Yesterday and Today, 1976 and the quiz programs Scommettiamo Wanna Bet, 1976–1978, inspired by horse-racing, and a remake of Lascia o raddoppia in 1979

Mike Bongiorno with Pippo Baudo, Corrado Mantoni and Enzo Tortora

He moved to Tele Milano now Canale 5, one of the first Italian commercial TV channels owned by Mediaset, the media company founded by Silvio Berlusconi, to host I sogni nel cassetto The dreams, literally "The dreams in the drawer", 1979–1980 After a brief return to RAI with the news-game Flash 1980–1982, he continued working for Mediaset quiz programmes Bis 1981–1990, Superflash 1982–1985, Pentathlon 1985–1987, Telemike 1987–1992, Tris 1990–1991, the math game Tutti per uno All for one, 1992 and from 1989 to 2003 La ruota della fortuna Wheel of Fortune

From 1991 to 2001 he hosted Bravo, Bravissimo, a festival featuring preteen musicians, dancers and singers from all over the world He won 24 Telegatto, the Italian TV prize

Until 2005 he hosted Genius on Rete 4, an afternoon quiz show aimed at 12- to 14-year-olds In 2006 and 2007 he hosted his last quiz show Il Migliore The Best on Rete 4 More recently, he was also a guest on the second episode of the Gianfranco Funari's show Apocalypse Show on Rai 1 On December 13, 2007, Mike Bongiorno was awarded an honorary degree Honoris Causa by IULM University of Milan On 26 March 2009 Bongiorno signed for SKY Italia after Mediaset decided not to renew his contract, where he planned to host a new game show on SKY Uno called RiSKYtutto a modern edition of his popular show Rischiatutto, which had been scheduled to air in the autumn of 2009


On September 8, 2009, at the age of 85, Mike Bongiorno died of a heart attack, while leaving the Hotel Metropole, Monte-Carlo after a short holiday with his wife Daniela

His body lay in repose for a few days at the Triennale in Milan before a state funeral was held in the Milan Cathedral on September 12, 2009 Many Italian TV stars such as Rosario Fiorello, Pippo Baudo, Fabio Fazio, Sandra Mondaini, Alba Parietti, Paola Barale, Carlo Conti, Gerry Scotti, Marco Columbro and several other entertainers attended the service which was held by bishop Erminio De Scalzi

Bongiorno was buried in the family tomb, at Dagnente Cemetery, near Arona On January 25, 2011, the tomb was ransacked and his body, along with the coffin, was stolen On Thursday, December 8, 2011, Mike Bongiorno's body was recovered from a field near Milan

Pasolini on television and Mike Bongiorno

La tv: qui la donna è considerata a tutti gli effetti un essere inferiore: viene delegata a incarichi d'importanza minima, come per esempio informare dei programmi della giornata; ed è costretta a farlo in modo mostruoso, cioè con femminilità Ne risulta una specie di puttana che lancia al pubblico sorrisi di imbarazzante complicità e fa laidi occhietti Oppure viene adoperata ancillarmente come "valletta" al "maschio" Mike Bongiorno e affini Pier Paolo Pasolini

TV: here woman is to all intents and purposes considered as an inferior being: she's delegated to minimum importance duties, such as for instance giving advice about the daily show schedule; and she's forced to do it in a monstrous way, with feminity, I mean The result is a sort of bitch who throws embarrassing complicity-full smiles and filthy glances Or she's ancillarily used as a "valletta" for the "male" Mike Bongiorno or a similar one Pier Paolo Pasolini

Honours and awards


In 1996 he was made a Commander of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus by Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, the last Crown Prince of the former Kingdom of Italy, and Head of the House of Savoy

On May 26, 2004, in occasion of his 80th birthday, he was appointed as Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic by the then Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi

Honorary degree

In the fall of 2007, Bongiorno received an Honorary degree in Television, Film and Multimedia production from the IULM University of Milan


  • 1984 Telegatto - Best TV quiz, for presenting television quiz "Superflash" on Canale 5
  • 1985 Telegatto - Best TV quiz, for presenting television quiz "Superflash" on Canale 5
  • 1986 Telegatto - Best TV quiz, for presenting television quiz "Superflash" on Canale 5
  • 1987 Telegatto - Best TV quiz, for presenting television game show "Pentathlon" on Canale 5
  • 1988 Telegatto - Best TV quiz, for presenting television game quiz "Telemike" on Canale 5
  • 1989 Telegatto - Best TV quiz, for presenting television game quiz "Telemike" on Canale 5
  • 1990 Telegatto - Best TV quiz, for presenting television game quiz "Telemike" on Canale 5
  • 1991 Telegatto - Best TV quiz, for presenting television game quiz "Telemike" on Canale 5
  • 1992 Telegatto - Best quiz and game shows, presenting "La Ruota Della Fortuna", the Italian version of Wheel of Fortune
  • 1993 Telegatto - Best quiz and game shows, presenting "La Ruota Della Fortuna", the Italian version of Wheel of Fortune
  • 1994 Telegatto - Best quiz and game shows, presenting "La Ruota Della Fortuna", the Italian version of Wheel of Fortune
  • 1995 Telegatto - Best quiz and game shows, presenting "La Ruota Della Fortuna", the Italian version of Wheel of Fortune
  • 1996 Telegatto platinum, for a lifelong career for the 50-year career in television
  • 1997 Telegatto - Best Music Program, for hosting "Festival della canzone italiana"
  • 2003 Telegatto - What's on TV, for hosting "Grand Prix International TV"
  • 2006 Telegatto platinum, for a lifelong career
  • 2008 Premio Club Santa Chiara, for a lifelong career
  • 2011 Premio America of the Italy-USA Foundation in memory


  1. ^ Xuereb, Charles "'A personality that shaped TV entertainment for decades'" Times of Malta Retrieved 2009-09-10 
  2. ^ "Laurea Magistrale Honoris Causa in Televisione, cinema e produzione multimediale a Mike Bongiorno" in Italian IULM University Archived from the original on 2010-12-29 Retrieved 2009-09-09 
  3. ^ "Arona, trafugata la bara di Mike Bongiorno" in Italian Retrieved 2011-01-25 
  4. ^ "ONORIFICENZE - Dettaglio del decorato" in Italian Retrieved 2009-09-10 

External links

  • Mike Bongiorno on IMDb

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Mike Bongiorno

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