Dario Fo, Italian Nobel Laureate and Political Playwright, Dies at 90

  • Won Nobel Prize for literature in 1997, famous for his satire
  • In recent years he backed Italy’s populist Five Star Movement

Italian actor Dario Fo attends the closing act of the electoral campaign of Virginia Raggi (Five Star Movement - M5S), candidate for the election of Rome's mayor, at Piazza del Popolo in Rome, Italy on June 03, 2016. The first round of the Municipal elections will be held on June 5.(Photo by Giuseppe Ciccia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Nobel laureate Dario Fo, an Italian playwright and actor known for his practical jokes and cutting political satire, has died. He was 90.

“He was conscious until yesterday,” and spent his final hours with relatives and friends, Delfino Luigi Legnani, lead doctor at Sacco Hospital in Milan said in a televised briefing on Thursday. Fo had been admitted to the hospital earlier this month for respiratory illness.

Fo was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1997. The Swedish Academy said he “emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”

Dario Fo

Photographer: NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

His most popular plays include “Mistero Buffo” and “Accidental Death of an Anarchist.”

Throughout his career, Fo was also a vocal political activist, joining campaigns to fight pollution and genetically modified food as well as movements to help the disabled.

In 2009, he gave a speech at a Rome rally dubbed “No Berlusconi Day,” asking for then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to resign as the premier’s sex scandals and his party’s corruption cases dominated the Italian media.

In recent years, Fo was also a supporter of the anti-establishment Five Star movement founded by comedian Beppe Grillo and he came in third in the party’s 2013 online vote among its members for candidates for that year’s election of the President of Republic. He recently joined the campaign opposing the constitutional reforms proposed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi that will be the focus of a Dec. 4 referendum.

Fo’s wife Franca Rame, a fellow actress who served as a senator from 2006 to 2008, died in 2013. Fo is survived by their son Jacopo.

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