Mario Monicelli, a celebrated Italian film director, took his own life by leaping from the fifth-floor balcony of a Rome hospital where he was being treated for cancer. He was 95.
Italy's public broadcaster Rai television late Monday interrupted a popular programme to announce his death.
"Death doesn't frighten me, it bothers me," Monicelli, who was awarded the Career Golden Lion achievement award at the Venice Film Festival in 1991, said in a 2007 interview with Vanity Fair. "It bothers me for example that someone can be there tomorrow and but me I am no longer there. What bothers me is no longer being alive, not being dead," he said.
Monicelli was born in 1915 in Viareggio in the central Italy Tuscany region. Monicelli's father Tomaso Monicelli, a well-known journalist and anti-facist, committed suicide in 1946.
Monicelli came to the fore during Italy's golden age of cinema with "I Soliti Ignoti", (Big Deal on Madonna Street), "The Great War", "For Love and Gold", and "My Friends".
He directed around 65 films, many with household names in Italian cinema like Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi and Anna Magnani.
"The Italians want someone who thinks for them," he said in a March interview on the public broadcaster Rai. "If things go well, great, but if they go badly they stomp him to death. This is Italy."
Carlo Verdone, one of Italy's most popular comedy movie stars, said Monicelli suffered in old age because he was no longer able to work.
"He had been very depressed. He told the story of his country with class, thoughfulness and irony," said Carlo Verdone, one of Italy's most popular comedy movie stars, in an interview with newspaper Corriere della Sera. "Maybe he couldn't stand old age anymore," said Carlo.
Former Rome mayor Walter Veltroni and founder of the Rome Film Festival remembered Monicelli as "an extraordinary man" with "a sharp sense of irony, and the constant desire to make an important statement".